?Sigh. It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
With Victor Wanyama in talks with Belgian outfit Club Brugge, it seems as though the Kenyan’s time is up at Spurs. Absent from the squad in last weekend’s thrilling clash with Man City, Wanyama’s departure has felt inevitable for some time – a case of when rather than if.
There was also a matter of where, and who, as the risk of signing the powerful defensive midfielder seemed high. Injuries have taken their roll on Wanyama, which is why the reported fee – around £10m – may seem low on the surface for such an established player in this market.
It is a similar fee to what Spurs paid ?Southampton for the 28-year-old back in 2016, in what seemed like a genuine bargain. With the Saints, Wanyama had established himself as an uncompromising, tough-tackling midfielder, and even played under Mauricio Pochettino in his debut season.
What followed his arrival at ?Spurs was not only the greatest individual season of his career, but the greatest league season for the club itself in the Premier League era, as Spurs challenged ?Chelsea for the league title, racking up as many as 86 points.
With Eric Dier pushed back into a three-man defence with the Belgian duo Jan Vertonghen and ?Toby ?Alderweireld, and the dynamic pair of Danny Rose and ?Kyle Walker energetically dominating the left and right flanks, Wanyama was tasked with bossing the middle of the pitch with Mousa Dembele.
While Dembele was the star of the show, slaloming past opposition challenges and feeding passes into the front three of ?Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and ?Harry Kane, Wanyama was an unsung hero, protecting the defence while also providing surprising quality on the ball.
Wanyama may not have been the most gifted passer, but he protected the ball expertly, retaining possession and often able to dribble out of tight spaces – he had quick feet for a big man.
Record breaker. Club Brugge and Tottenham are currently in talks over Victor Wanyama. Brugge are willing to spend a record fee – their transfer record is around €8m – for the midfielder. Spurs are hoping to get at least £11.5m (€12,5m). @hlnsport @niels_27 #thfc pic.twitter.com/NHffevat3V
— Kristof Terreur ?? (@HLNinEngeland) August 22, 2019
Wanyama also popped up with a few goals that season – five in total – most memorable of which were his winner against ?Crystal Palace on his debut – a poacher’s finish – as well as a bullet header in a 2-1 victory over ?Man Utd in the final ever game played at the old White Hart Lane.
On the eve of a 2-0 win over Chelsea that season – which ended Chelsea’s 13-game winning streak, and in which Wanyama bossed ?N’Golo Kante of all players – he was even singled out by opposition boss Antonio Conte.
Speaking to the ?Guardian, the current ?Inter manager explained: ”This season, there is a very important player for Pochettino, who is Wanyama. I like his quality and quantity – in terms of his stamina, work-rate and commitment.”
High praise indeed, but unfortunately for the Kenya captain – who made his international debut at just 15 – it was against the very same opposition and manager the next season who he suffered a knee injury against, sidelining him for four months.
Upon his return, Wanyama found Dembele and ?Dier had rekindled their midfield partnership, as well as the emergence of a young Harry Winks increasing competition. Most importantly, however, the knee injury seemed to significantly hinder his playing ability, decreasing his mobility in particular.
That didn’t stop Wanyama scoring an absolute screamer at Anfield that season, almost breaking the net with the velocity of the strike. Perhaps that would be the confidence boost he needed to regain his old form?
It was not. Instead, heartbreakingly, Wanyama damaged his knee again in a pre-season friendly against ?Barcelona before the 2018/19 season.
The sale of ?Dembele in January, as well as an injury-ravaged midfield throughout the season, enabled Wanyama to feature heavily in Tottenham’s unlikely Champions League run, starting in games against ?Man City and Ajax.
Despite doing an admirable job, however, it was clear to see that Wanyama was a shell of his former self, offering half as much as he did in his prime. With the resurrection of Moussa
Sissoko’s career, arrival of Tanguy Ndombele and emergence of 18-year-old Oliver Skipp, Wanyama has found himself sixth choice in a crowded Spurs midfield.
It’s only fair that Wanyama finds himself a new home, where he can play regularly and hopefully recover fully from his substantial injury issues. Sadly, that home can no longer be at Spurs.