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Transfer Scenario: Victor Wanyama and Celtic

This article forms part of our Transfer Scenario feature, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at a recent transfer story and suggests what the potential consequences would be, should a deal be completed.

The Scottish Sun reported that Celtic manager Neil Lennon was interested in bringing Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama back to the club and could make a move for him in January.

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported that the Hoops were considering a season-long loan bid for the 28-year-old and had hoped to get him in before the Scottish transfer deadline two weeks ago.

The Kenya international spent two years at Celtic from 2011 to 2013, scoring 13 goals and supplying nine assists in 91 appearances for the club. [via]

Among his goals was a header in a 2-1 win against Barcelona in the Champions League in November 2012, while he was nominated for PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year that season.

Having been bought by Celtic for just £900,000, as reported by Scotzine, he was sold on to Southampton two years later for £12.5m, as reported by BBC, making the Hoops a very tidy profit.

If Wanyama was to return to Celtic, his move would likely have some consequences that Lennon would be well advised to consider…

A player in need of a career boost after two seasons of decline

Wanyama went from starting 35 Premier League games for Tottenham in 2016/17 to just 12 over the following two seasons and has had zero game time so far in 2019/20.

Even though injuries such as the knee problem that kept him out for four months during 2017/18 have been responsible for his reduced action, his statistics when on the field have also declined.

In the 2015/16 campaign for Southampton, he averaged 3.1 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per game. Last season for Tottenham, those match averages fell to one tackle and 0.5 interceptions. [via]

From an attack-minded perspective, he has gone from averaging 1.1 shots, 54.8 passes, 0.9 key passes and 1.4 dribbles per game in 2016/17, with an 87.5% passing success rate; to match averages of 0.5 shots, 25.1 passes, 0.2 key passes and 0.5 dribbles per game in 2016/17, with an 87.5% passing success rate. [via]

Therefore, Lennon should realise that the Wanyama in whom he is reportedly interested now is not the midfield dynamo of previous years.

A specialist option in a sparse defensive midfield area

Even though Wanyama has been nowhere near as effective in recent months as he had been two or three years ago, his arrival at Celtic would still give them a welcome boost to an area where they aren’t especially strong or overly stocked.

Lennon has three natural defensive midfielders in his squad in Nir Bitton, Eboue Kouassi and Luca Connell. The former has played mostly at centre-back this season and has endured serious injury problems in the past, having been sidelined for nearly a year with a knee injury (as per The Scottish Sun) while neither of the latter two has even been in a matchday squad for the first team this season.

Centre midfielders Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham could also play in a holding role, but the former has featured there just twice this season while Ntcham has been more likely to be deployed further forward than dropped back to a defensive midfield position. Also, while Wanyama has been pushed up to a central midfield position in the past, he has only played five games in such a role.

Therefore, the 28-year-old seems most comfortable in defensive midfield, a sector of the pitch where Lennon has had to adapt – Brown and attacking midfielder Callum McGregor played there against Hamilton at the weekend – so Wanyama’s arrival would lessen the likelihood of the Celtic boss having to shove square pegs into round holes.

It would also probably make it even harder for Kouassi and Connell to break into the first-team picture, given that they haven’t been able to do so despite more senior players having to be deployed out of their favoured position.

Celtic fans, what do you think the potential consequences would be if Wanyama were to return to the club? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them below!

Transfer Scenario: Victor Wanyama and Celtic
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