Southampton’s Victor Wanyama looks set to be Spurs’ first signing of the summer transfer window in a move that is sure to please supporters and manager Mauricio Pochettino alike. The Argentine worked with Wanyama during his tenure at Southampton and was rumoured to have wanted him in the last window as well. With a deal looking likely to be wrapped up this week (reports indicate Wanyama has passed his medical and agreed terms), what can Spurs fans look forward to from the Kenyan international?
For starters, Wanyama is a typical Poch type of player: young, hard-working, and physically strong. Training under Poch is incredibly demanding, as is the high-press style he prefers Spurs play with. Last year, the team broke records for ground covered in matches, and routinely snatched points late on in games as opponents tired out. Wanyama is certainly a player who can go the distance in games, and his all-action style adds bite to an already physically-imposing central midfield area for Spurs.
Another key benefit of his impending arrival is the cover he provides Spurs’ primary central midfield duo of Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele. Moose and the Dierwolf (did I just invent a new buddy cop TV series?) were some of Spurs’ best performers last season, but anytime the two couldn’t play due to a suspension or rotation meant that lower quality options had to be fielded. Typically, this meant playing time for Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll, both of whom are decent players but also a noticeable step down from the level Dier and Dembele are at.
Dembele’s absence from our last 4 matches this past season in particular is likely what cost us second place to Arsenal, as Mason could not bring the same physicality and drive the Belgian offers. Wanyama is a step above Mason and Carroll in that regard; a physical powerhouse with a strong shot and defensive instincts. He’s well capable of stepping in for either Dier or Dembele when need be, and will help Pochettino manage the demands of the league, Champions League, and domestic cups next season.
Finally, the Kenyan midfield-destroyer also knows Poch’s system and his preferred style of play very well from their time together at Southampton. One of the hallmarks of Poch as a manager is that if a player doesn’t fit his game plan, they don’t have a place. Players like Fazio and Townsend found themselves out in the cold last season for failing to adapt to Poch’s regime, and any new players will absolutely need to conform to his style. Wanyama won’t need any time to acclimate to the way of life at Spurs, though, so he can come in and hit the ground running in preseason. There’s also the slight added benefit of him not being involved in international football this summer, freeing him up for a proper preseason once he completes his move.
As a Spurs fan who’s always somewhat leery of the club’s transfer dealings, I’m pleased to admit that I feel like this move is pretty solid overall. We got it done early in the window, it’s a player I know the manager trusts, and the guy will have time to gel with his new teammates before the league kicks off in August. With the central midfield area addressed, the only gaps I see in the squad right now are in the winger and striker positions, and we have plenty of time to solve them. If club chairman Daniel Levy and Pochettino can work together to find similarly useful players for providing depth in those problematic areas, I fancy our chances to perform well in the league again, and make some noise in the Champions League.