Kenya's Victor Wanyama shines for Celtic By THOMAS MCGUIGAN | Tuesday, April 23 2013 at 12:26
Kenya midfielder Victor Wanyama has been likened to a young Patrick Vieira with "the world at his feet".
Celtic boss Neil Lennon's tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Wanyama is worth £25m had a serious undertone: the precocious talent has shone domestically and in the Champions League.
And it would be no surprise if covetous eyes cast in the 21-year-old's direction from English Premier League clubs lead to bids for his services in the summer.
Contracted until 2015, the combative midfielder has impressed since joining Celtic in July 2011 for £900,000 move from Belgian club Beerschot.
Wanyama made an instant impression with the Celtic supporters off the pitch, choosing the jersey number 67 to show his "appreciation" to the 1967 European Cup-winning side The Lisbon Lions.
"My ambition at Celtic is to win many trophies like the Lisbon Lions," he said when he signed.
He revealed that he sought career advice from his brother, Inter Milan's McDonald Mariga Wanyama, who is on loan at Parma; and opted to join Celtic over Aston Villa because of the lure of European football.
Soon his displays on the pitch saw him become an integral part of Celtic's engine room. Able to play in central midfield and central defence, his physical approach and ability to thunder through tackles saw his popularity rocket.
Yet his imposing physique doesn't overshadow a keen football brain, with the youngster able to utilise space in the middle of the park as he seeks to break up attacks and set up counters for his side.
For such a young player, he settled quickly in Scotland's top flight and was not overawed by more seasoned opponents.
Vying for a central midfield place with the likes of Scott Brown, Beram Kayal, Ki Sung-Yueng and Joe Ledley, the African impressed with his composure.
While he'll hope his passing and shooting in front of goal will improve, his aerial strength make him a dangerous player in either box, as Barcelona will testify.
His defensive work and ability to close down the opposition continue to improve and galloping runs beyond the midfield are fast becoming his trademark.
His bullet header and stunning display in the 2-1 victory over the Catalans was the highlight of an impressive Champions League campaign for Wanyama and Celtic.
The Vieira comparison came from Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who was impressed when the Italians accounted for Celtic in the last 16 of the Champions League this season.
Despite being only 21, Wanyama has displayed leadership in Celtic's midfield and the side lacks bite in his absence.
Signing Wanyama fits into Celtic's transfer strategy of securing talented youngsters who will deliver silverware before being sold for a tidy profit.
With a host of clubs including Manchester United reportedly interested in the midfielder, who has rejected a new contract offer, Celtic will be confident of commanding more than the £900,000 fee they paid for him, should they decide to sell.
What's less certain is whether they could replace him with a 21-year-old of similar stature and potential.
The midfielder with the world at his feet won't be short of options in the summer. (BBC)
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