Victor Wanyama’s rise is an opportunity for Kenyan football

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I would like to introduce a player on the rise for Southampton FC. Underrated and undervalued by many, Victor Wanyama from Kenya has been an integral figure for the Saints since he joined in the summer of 2013.

He’s a typical #5: dictating play, setting the tempo, taking the ball off the backline to start the attacks, and shielding the back four. From his 6ft 2in massive body comes a powerful work rate and defensive asset. He’s a roaming destroyer, capable of playing box-to-box trying to win back possession. He’s also a composed play dictator, linking defense and attack. It’s no surprise he’s being targeted by numerous top clubs in Europe and Southampton is desperately trying to keep him.

In all, Kenya produced one of the best #5’s in the modern football.

It was the summer of 1991 when Wanyama was born in Nairobi. He spent his early teenage years playing for prestigious youth academy clubs, Nairobi City Stars and AFC Leopards. At age 16, he moved to Sweden for Helsingborgs I.F., where he joined his talented brother McDonald Mariga. That year, he made a successful first-team international debut against Nigeria and continued to make a positive impact for the Kenya national team. But, he struggled to settle in Sweden. The young teenager couldn’t adjust to the new environment and it was clearly affecting his performance on the pitch. Although his time in Sweden was a failure, he was already on the move for a next challenge with Beerschot in Belgium. Thriving for both for club and country, Wanyama began to establish himself as a rising youngster which made it possible for him to move to Celtic in Scotland. He was a regular member of the team that won two Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Cup in his first two years at Celtic. The turning point in his career came when he and his teammates achieved the famous victory over the mighty Barcelona during the 2012 Champions League group stage. Listen to what the pundits had to say about Wanyama’s performance.

Wanyama ended the campaign as the 2013 Clydesdale Bank Young Player of the Year and with a reputation as one of the most exciting young midfielders in Britain. He left to join the Saints that summer and the current Kenyan captain is in the spotlight this January transfer window.

There have been notable Kenyan players who moved to Europe, but no one has truly emulated Wanyama’s success at the top. A pioneer, he has undoubtedly opened up paths for more Kenyan players to move abroad early and exemplify his success. The question lies here: can Kenyan football take Wanyama’s rise as an opportunity to grow their football? The player is only 24 and he is still climbing. The Kenyan captain has already proved his nation that his hard work and dedication to his craft are two of the biggest impacts on Kenyan football. I hope this lifts the nation and takes its football to new levels. Oh, it would be my dream to see my beloved Kenya in the World Cup one day. Only time will tell. Until then, keep an eye on him if you’ve never seen him play in the EPL.

 

 

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Transfer Mystery in the EPL – 2. Why are EPL teams not spending well?

In part I of the ‘Transfer Mystery in the EPL’ series, I answered the first of three main questions concluding that EPL transfer fees are overly inflated because they have so much money from broadcasting deals. EPL teams – from top to bottom – can outspend most teams in other leagues. Don’t get me wrong. Big teams like B. Munich, R. Madrid, Barca, and PSG still have huge money to maintain their superiority, but it is the second-tier powers like Sevilla, Leverkusen, and AS Roma that are in danger of getting outspent by second and third-tier Premier League teams. However there’s a concern over how EPL teams are spending. Even with the resource to bring good players in, the Premier League teams have been struggling against teams across Europe. We have witnessed too many expensive players come into the premier league only to be shipped out a season or two later.

So today’s topic deals with the second question.

  1. Why is the transfer fee higher in England?
  2. Why are EPL teams not spending well?
  3. Why are they struggling in Europe?

To illustrate how badly the Premier League elites are wasting their money, it is necessary to compare it the spending of other leagues’ teams. (The transfer fees are from www.transfermarkt.com) (in euros)

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Antoine Griezmann, who was one of the best players in La Liga last season with Atletico Madrid, was bought from Real Sociedad for 30 million euros. Let’s not forget. Before he joined Atletico, he was a key player for Real Sociedad scoring 16 goals in La Liga. In return, Atletico benefitted from his incredible 22 goals in the league.

Flying over to England, Adam Lallana of Liverpool cost 31 million euros from Southampton.

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Juan Cuadrado of Chelsea cost 31 million euros from Fiorentina (It looks like he’s going to be shipped out of Chelsea soon).

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And, Tottenham flop Roberto Soldado was bought from Valencia CF for 30 million euros.

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Comparing Griezmann’s worth to some of these players in the EPL, the Premier league elites are wasting way too much money.

Football - FC Barcelona v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Final - Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - 6/6/15 Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Reuters / Darren Staples

Let’s look at Ivan Rakitic, who was a key figure in Barca’s treble-winning season. He cost Barcelona 18 million euros. For Sevilla, Rakitic was a playmaker to lead the team to victory in the Europa League

Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Arsenal paid Southampton 20.23 million euros for Calum Chambers, Man. City paid Fiorentina 26 million euros for Stevan Jovetic, and Liverpool paid AC Milan 20 million euros for Balotelli.  

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Signing a player of Rakitic’s calibre for 18 million euros was a business well done. Even the Premier League newcomer, Bournemouth, aka the smallest club ever to play in the EPL, signed a club record of over 11 million euros for Tyrone Mings this summer. Who even is Tyrone Mings?

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Ezequiel Garay: 6 million euros from Benfica to Zenit

Mangala: 40 million euros from FC Porto to Man. City

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City buying Mangala for FORTY million euros is outrageous once we compare a similar player who joined Zenit.

Toni Kroos: 30 million euros from Munich to Real Madrid

Markovic: 25 million euros from Benfica to Liverpool

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I don’t need to say anything here.

It won’t be fair to exclude some of Manchester United players. Of the players brought in by LVG, United got themselves in a messy situation with Di Maria and splashed questionable transfer fees on Shaw (37.5 m), Rojo (20 m), Herrera (36 m), and Schneiderlin (35 m).  

An ESPN FC author, Rory Smith, too, writes an interesting article on this issue.

In terms of analysis and decision-making on foreign players, other leagues, La Liga in particular, have considerably been better at getting a quality business done in the transfer market for past few years.

So, EPL teams are not spending well with their abundance of money. Is this any related to the poor performance in Europe?