With Kenya’s most notable star moving to Major League Soccer, Goal assess whether he made the right decision
At last, Victor Wanyama can afford a smile.
The Kenyan captain was in trouble in England, as he wasn’t getting any playing time at Tottenham Hotspur, putting his place as Kenya national team leader in jeopardy with just over a year to go until the Africa Cup of Nations.
Wanyama, who fell down the pecking order at Spurs following a horrific knee injury in 2018, failed to convince the current manager Jose Mourinho that he is good enough for his first team.
Mourinho, who took over from Mauricio Pochettino late last year, praised Wanyama in the media, but rarely included him in his matchday squads, despite Spurs’ injury problems.
— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) August 8, 2019
Despite efforts by ‘Big Vic’ to cling on at the North London club, Wanyama’s final straw was delivered by the ‘Special One’ when he confirmed that the player was not in the Uefa Champions League squad for the knockout stages, instead opting to include third-choice goalkeeper Michel Vorm in his player list.
With pressure mounting on Wanyama back home ahead of upcoming qualifiers, the ‘Lion of Muthurwa’ has finally ended a three-and-a-half-year stay with Spurs.
The 28-year-old joins Canadian club Montreal Impact on a free transfer as a Designated Player on a three-year deal, and will link up with the Major League Soccer outfit once his medical is completed and international clearance is processed.
Tottenham confirmed the transfer of the player on their official website by stating: “We have reached an agreement with Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact for the transfer of Victor Wanyama.
“The midfielder made 97 appearances for us in all competitions following his move from Southampton in June 2016, and scored seven times, including the opening goal in our final game at White Hart Lane.
“We wish Victor well for the future.”
Was it too early for Wanyama to leave Spurs?
Former Gor Mahia custodian Mike Kisaghi says it was the right decision by Wanyama to quit North London, having stayed at the club for three and a half good years.
“It is a good decision for him, a very good and wise move,” Kisaghi told Goal. “[Wanyama] is a professional player and he needs to be playing regularly. We need him fit for the Harambee Stars.
“One might say it is a step backward considering the level of the [MLS] vis-a-vis the Premier League, but he needed this move. Good for him.”
Late transfer chain involving Wanyama 🇰🇪 & Zungu 🇿🇦 spanning three countries.
Amiens trying to recruit Big Vic on loan from Tottenham, Spurs currently unhappy with terms.
The French club will only allow Zungu to move on to Mallorca IF they can get Wanyama over the line. pic.twitter.com/BoHSB2ocqd
— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) January 31, 2020
While Kisaghi has acknowledged that the move is a step down for Wanyama, he has conceded that the midfielder “had no better options on the table.”
“Well, PL is on another level, yes, it is a step down for him but he had no options, he had to move on,” opined Kisaghi.
Posta Rangers coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo echoed Kisaghi’s sentiments, saying the player needed regular playing time to be assured of keeping his place in the national team.
“It is a well-calculated move by Wanyama first because at Tottenham, he was not getting playtime as he was used to,” Omollo told Goal. “Secondly, age was catching up with Wanyama, and the fact he was Harambee Stars captain, he needed regular time on the pitch to safeguard his position.”
Omollo added: “There was no way he would have kept the armband when he was not playing. He needs to be fit and the move is the right one for him.
“The growth of Wanyama has seen in his career is the best. Look, the man has been a regular player in all the teams he played for.
“It is just one or two seasons back that he has not been playing for Tottenham and it is because of two things; when he got injured, he started struggling with match-fitness and it is all about competition.”
Omollo maintains that Wanyama’s career will not be affected by the move to Canada, saying the player has already made his name in the football scene.
“He has had challenges, but he has also enjoyed a good career pattern,” Omollo stated. “Even the move to Canada will not soil his successful career.
Wanyama joined Impact after playing three and a half seasons with Tottenham, where he registered six goals and one assist in 69 league games, including 47 starts, and 4,385 minutes of action in the top flight.
He was part of the team that reached the 2018-19 Champions League final, appearing in five games in the knockout stage, starting three, against Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, and Ajax, but was not used in the final against Liverpool.
Apart from missing out on winning a trophy with Tottenham, Wanyama achieved an awful lot during a time of great transition in North London, and the club’s move to the new stadium.
He can leave England with his head held high as he takes on a new challenge under Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Wanyama’s new side began their MLS campaign with a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution on March 1, while the club also advanced in the Concacaf Champions League by taking down Deportivo Saprissa.
Wanyama could make his debut for Impact when they take on FC Dallas on Saturday, or in the club’s CCL clash with Emmanuel Adebayor’s Olimpia on March 10.
After a tricky season, under Mauricio Pochettino and then Mourinho, Wanyama can finally launch a new chapter in his career.