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Wanyama hints at Saints exit

WANYAMA-BARCA-1NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Southampton midfielder and Harambee Stars captain, Victor Wanyama has hinted a possible exit from the Saints to pursue the dream of returning to the UEFA Champions League.

The 22-year-old midfield maestro last played in the prestigious competition two years ago while with Scottish champions, Glasgow Celtic where he scored a goal in their historic 2-1 victory over four-time champions Barcelona at Park Head.

“I will be happy to play in any team that is in the Champions League, that’s my aim, I wanted to face a new challenge in English Premier League and now that I’ve conquered it, very soon I will be going back to playing in the biggest tournament in the world.

“I tasted it and I think it’s important to all footballers,” the soft spoken defensive midfielder told Capital Sport in Nairobi.

Wanyama became the first Kenyan player ever to score in the Champions League after netting the opener through a powerful flying header before forward Tony Wyatt struck the winning goal at a group game in Glasgow.

Now his ambition is to match elder brother, MacDonald Mariga who won the competition with Inter Milan in 2010.

“It was a good feeling when I scored against a big team like Barcelona since we were the first to break their unbeaten run before bitter rivals Real Madrid beat them too, so they only lost those two matches and that makes me feel proud until today,” he added.

Wanyama who joined Saints last summer on a four-year deal worth 12.5 million pounds (Sh1, 841, 756,822), becoming the second most expensive signing at the club.

His admission he would be open to greener pastures will come as another blow to Southampton who lost their manager, Maurico Pochettino to EPL rivals Tottenham on Monday in a development Wanyama expressed his disappointment.

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The midfielder was hoping the Argentine could stay because he contributed a lot in his carrier development since he landed in England but after his exit, Wanyama termed it as a major blow to the entire team.

“I learnt a lot from him, he taught me more and that’s why I have grown as a player and there is a big difference compared to when I was at Celtic.

“I wanted him to remain because he had the passion for the club and I think the owners should not have let him go because the team can do better next season. It’s a big blow because he had good connection with the players,” he noted.

Pochettino left four months after Nicola Cortese tendered his resignation as chairman and Wanyama hopes key players such as England trio, striker Jay Rodriguez, midfielder Adam Lallana and left-back Luke Shaw will stay so they can build a successful team next season.

“When the chairman left it was sad for all of us and we agreed to perform well for his sake since he brought the team together and I remember when we started the league he was proud of the team because he is the one who made it.

“The rumours of Lallana and Shaw leaving started long time ago, it’s their future so I can’t talk more about them but it could have been good if they stayed so that the team can get stronger and grow together.”

Commenting on the difference between Scottish league and EPL, he said, “I feel good playing in EPL and actually being the first East African to play in a major league.

“There are big differences compared to Scotland where you find at most only five teams are competitive but here the league is tough since all teams are strong making every game a challenge,” he explained.

“There are few players who can play in EPL because it’s the hardest league, the pace is very high.

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“It has quality players like Luis Suarez who is very intelligent having all the qualities a footballer may need since he has the speed and knows how to position himself giving defenders difficulties and can score at any time, he deserved the PFA Player of the Year award,” he added.

“Playing against big teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool was a priority to me since I gained a lot of experience but there is no small team, all are tough because most have excellent players so I usually take every game as a big match,” Wanyama continued.

Injury setback

After playing 12 games, the powerhouse midfielder suffered a hairline fracture to his leg during their 3-2 home defeat by Aston Villa and was sidelined for more than six weeks.

“It was so hard for me because I got injured after only playing less than 10 matches. I fractured my leg after colliding with Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan which kept me out for long.

“The injury continued to recur whenever I returned for the matches forcing me to miss many games, I felt bad because it was my first time to get long term injury but I worked hard and at the end I was fit something that helped me finish the league strong,” he disclosed.

Wanyama was upbeat they will perform better next season and hope to improve on their previous performance where they finished eighth with 56 points.

He pin pointed their first leg match against Liverpool who finished second, four points behind champions Manchester City as his most memorable match.

“My best game was against Liverpool where we beat them 1-0. Playing at Anfield against the passionate crowd saw my dream come true and that made me not forget that match since they were the toughest team at that time after going four matches unbeaten,” he concluded.

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