Why Arsenal should beware Wanyama and his loose-lipped former coach

Celtic youngster Victor Wanyama has been heavily linked with a possible move to the Premier League since January with Arsenal remaining the likeliest of destinations.

The 21-year-old Kenyan midfielder is highly-rated in Scotland after some impressive displays at Parkhead, most notably against Barcelona in Scottish Premier League champions’ sensational 2-1 victory in the Champions League.

Meanwhile, down in North London, Arsenal are desperately lacking in physicality in their midfield – the sale of Alex Song to Barcelona, compounded by the perpetual injury woes of Abou Diaby means at present only Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere provide any remote sense of a physical presence, despite their small stature.

At 6ft2” tall with great strength and power, Wanyama is exactly the kind of holding midfielder Wenger will be in the market for this summer and whilst he’s not a bargain as such, he won’t break the bank should the Gunners test Celtic’s resolve over the transfer.

However, the player and his representatives have been doing some talking – Arsenal as yet have not spoken officially about the player – and it seems the player is intent on a move to the Emirates.

Whilst he ticks all the boxes on paper, Arsenal fans, along with the club should beware of signing a player that has displayed a) a lack of loyalty to his current club and b) a lack of respect for Arsenal and their ambitions.

On the first point what may initially seem like Arsenal’s gain is undoubtedly Celtic’s loss – manager Neil Lennon wanted to hang on to the player he brought in for a mere £900,000 only two years ago. He and his staff have worked with the youngster, developing him into the kind of player that Arsenal would want in the first place.

The scenario will not be unfamiliar to Arsenal who have undertaken similar development policies with players of their own – the likes of Samir Nasri and Ashley Cole were labelled mercenaries for their moves to more affluent clubs after making their break into top level football under Wenger.

Wanyama has refused to sign a new contract with Celtic, effectively forcing the club’s hand, engineering his own sale – Celtic can’t afford to lose a £10 million-rated player for free in 2015.

Meanwhile, his former coach has been spilling beans all over the place. Jean-Marie Abeels is quoted as saying:

“Wenger spoke to Celtic around a month ago and Victor’s father and his mother Mildred says he would prefer to go there before any other club.”

“I will be speaking to his parents again in a week’s time and Victor also. But I already know that Arsenal have a big interest in the player, he added.

Considering how tight-lipped the French boss usually is, I doubt it would impress him to have one of his transfer targets’ people discussing with such candour a deal the club has yet to comment on.

Nonetheless, if true Arsenal are obviously making headway to negotiate the deal. However, the player’s agent has also got a case to answer after implying Arsenal are effectively a stepping stone for Wanyama to eventually end up playing for Manchester United.

He even had the audacity to mention Robin van Persie’s career as a potential template for his 21-year-old client’s.

“The English Premier League is the really big one. It’s just a question of what level Victor goes to. Van Persie went to Arsenal then moved on later to Manchester United. Victor can do the same if he goes to Arsenal. And I believe that is what he wants. He wants to go to Arsenal,” said his agent.

It’s hard to know where to start with this – firstly, it’s disrespectful to Arsenal to imply his client sees the club as a stepping stone on the road to elsewhere. That’s not what the fans want to hear from a potential new signing and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the club withdraw their interest following this statement.

Arsenal have had too many bad experiences of players with exactly that kind of attitude in recent years and those comments could well turn out be a deal-breaker for the Gunners.

If they still decide to bring him to the Emirates, they may well live to regret it further down the line. On the other hand perhaps it will be Wanyama who will live to regret his former coach’s willingness to talk him up.

image: © celticphotos

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