NAIROBI, Kenya, April 22- So, what’s next for Harambee Stars midfielder, Victor Wanyama following the Scottish Premier League (SPL) success with Celtic courtesy of a 4-1 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Sunday?
Speculation has mounted the 21-year-old will leave Parkhead this summer despite his Celtic contract having two more years to run with a host of English Premier League clubs such as champions-in-waiting, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool keen on his signature.
“Very happy to win my 2nd championship in a row thanks to our fans that have been with us for the worst and the best part of our season,” Wanyama tweeted after the title-winning match.
Manager Neil Lennon will send nine of his players, reportedly including Wanyama on holiday this week while working on ways of ensuring the core of his squad, stays together.
“While it is assumed that midfielder Wanyama will leave in the summer, Lennon is adamant he can keep players like top scorer Gary Hooper, Kris Commons and Joe Ledley,” the Daily Record reported.
“I don’t want to lose the core of the team because for me they have been magnificent. The three boys who scored today – Hooper, Ledley and Samaras – have been brilliant for me since I came in.
“Commons, Mulgrew, Forrest, Matthews, Wanyama and Kayal have all contributed greatly. Kelvin Wilson is another; he’s had a fantastic season and has really settled in to what we have asked of him. It is unfair to single anyone out because as a group they have been great together,” the manager added.
Writing for the Scottish Sun, former player, Davie Provan, nominated Wanyama as SPL’s top man this season, having starred in the league, Scottish Cup and the UEFA Champions League where the Kenyan midfield dynamo announced his coming to the world.
“For me though, Victor Wanyama has been the main man. It’s hard to believe the Kenyan midfielder is still only 21 and will only get better. He looks like a man amongst boys in the SPL.
“With Hooper and Wanyama likely to leave in the summer Lennon has to keep the rest of the squad intact, but that won’t be easy. After the anti-climax of this title how does he sell it to his players again?” Provan stated.
Speculation linking Wanyama with a move away from Parkhead reached fever pitch during the January transfer window, with Lennon valuing him at a staggering 25 million pounds or Sh3.182 billion.
If this interest escalates into a full-blown bidding war, the £9.9m (Sh1.267b) the Hoops received when they sold Aiden McGeady to Spartak Moscow just under three years ago is almost certain to be eclipsed.
“Arsenal are ready to resist Alex Song’s plea to return to the Emirates, and concentrate on their bid to land Celtic’s Victor Wanyama.
“The Gunners have so far failed to replace midfielder anchor Song, who joined Barcelona in the summer for £15million, but reports suggest the Cameroonian is desperate to return to north London after failing to establish himself at the Nou Camp,” the Daily Metro reported last month.
“Liverpool have joined the chase for Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama. Manager Brendan Rodgers has had the 21-year-old watched extensively and is ready to make a move in the summer window.
“Rodgers has made strengthening his defence a priority and wants at least one more attacking player. Yet Kenya holding midfielder Wanyama fits the player profile desired by the club’s owners and he can also provide cover at centre back, which is a bonus,” Daily Mail offered on March 18 as potential suitors for the combative midfield enforcer continued to gather pace.
In the absence of Dennis Oliech who will be missing through suspension, Wanyama is in line to captain Harambee Stars on June 5 when they face the Nigeria Super Eagles in their return leg of their 2014 World Cup qualifier.
This will no doubt be another feather in the cap of a player who continues to push the frontiers of Kenyan football as he readies for a busy summer of potential moves.
“When we wrap up the league, I will say it has been a very good season for me. There is only winning the league remaining to make it perfect. This season has been great for me because we have had a lot of games in Europe and in the cups,” the unassuming midfielder said.
“It has not been easy, but we have given our best and I am proud of the run we had in the Champions League. I think I have grown here. My team-mates have helped me, and so has the manager. I have learned a lot, especially in the European games. It has been great for my football knowledge,” Wanyama told the Evening Times in an interview earlier this month.