An unsung hero, Victor Wanyama’s relentless efforts as the ball-winning central midfielder often go unnoticed, at least to an inexperienced eye. This cannot be said of the Tottenham Hotspur fans who have, on more than one occasion, expressed their worship of the mighty Kenyan, acknowledging that the Premier League club performed better with him than without him.
But he suffered an injury and recently missed the London club’s loss to rivals Manchester United. After injuring his knee ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, Wanyama was left on the sidelines for two months before returning to the Spurs Cup game with Watford (in which they won on penalties) . It was these insignificant injuries that saw the former Nairobi-born Celtic and Southampton player named on a list of potential outgoing players despite a contract running until 2021.
If Spurs can get Wanyama in shape, he could play a crucial role in whether or not they are fighting for the title. Injury saw his performance drop (an average of 1.7 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game last season compared to 2.5 and 1.1 a year earlier) but the player has worked hard to regain his best form after extensive rehabilitation.
And let’s not forget that he can also score a goal or two. Last season, the man who became the first Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League, for Celtic against Barcelona in 2012, scored a thunderous strike in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Liverpool that earned him the goal of the season prize.
Getting back to a midfielder who owns Harry Winks, Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele isn’t easy but, with Spurs still battling in a number of competitions, including in Europe, Wanyama’s presence would provide plenty of opportunities to keep the squad going without compromising performance.
For Spurs, his biggest contribution is defense. When he first arrived at the club, they enjoyed the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 26 goals, but, last season, during which Wanyama was in and out of the squad because of ‘injury, that number rose to 36.
With star striker Harry Kane now injured for a long time, the London club may have to use all their resources to keep in touch with Premier League leaders Liverpool and Manchester City. This is already proving difficult after the re-emergence of Manchester United which saw the Red Devils beat Spurs at home. Football betting now sees them 100/1 underdogs for the title.
Victor Wanyama’s future could be elsewhere given the emergence of Spurs youngsters Harry Winks and Oliver Skipp during his injury absence. The Kenyan, who has won over 50 caps for the national team since his debut at the age of 15, is busy in the gym trying to get back in shape and, given injuries from other key players, including midfielder Moussa Sissoko, who could see the door open to return to the center of the park and start dominating as before.