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With 28 Premier League matches completed, only one player has been ever present for Tottenham.
Victor Wanyama started all the games for Spurs and became an integral – almost irreplaceable – part of Mauricio Pochettino’s lineup.
The Argentinian can certainly consider the summer transfer from Southampton for just £11 million to be a huge success, as Spurs became more solid defensively thanks to the Kenyan’s boundless energy and timely tackles.
Pochettino knew exactly what he was about to get.
After all, he was the man who signed Wanyama from Celtic in the summer of 2013 and guided him during his first season at Southampton when they finished seventh.
However, some of the Tottenham fans were unsure whether the Kenyan’s combative style would suit their team.
Eric Dier had an impressive season in defensive midfield in 2015/16, and it might have seemed unwise to unsettle him.
2.7 tackles per game
The solution proved to be easier than expected, though.
With Belgian centre-back Toby Alderweireld injured in the beginning of the season, Dier switched back to defence, allowing Wanyama to boss the midfield, usually alongside Moussa Dembele.
Lately, Pochettino tried out the 3-5-2 system as well, influenced by Antonio Conte’s tactical revolution at Chelsea, and Wanyama thrives in that role, enabling the wing-backs to roam forward at will.
There are glimpses of N’Golo Kante in his style.
He is not as effective as the Frenchman yet, but Wanyama still covers a lot of ground and contributes 2.7 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per game on average.
Standing at 188 cm, he is quite good in the air as well, useful at set pieces at both ends of the pitch.
Pochettino, the father figure
Wanyama conceded three red cards in his last season at Southampton, but he is much more disciplined this term under Pochettino, and it is hardly surprising given the perfect relations between the duo.
The Kenyan sees his boss as a father figure, claiming: “I’ve never had a manager who wants you to improve day-by-day like him. He works on your weaknesses and doesn’t look just at football, but life in general”.
There is still room for improvement, of course.
Wanyama could be more dangerous in attack, with just two goals to his name so far. His involvement in building play from behind is also far from perfect.
At the age of 25, he is not a finished article and should continue his progress under one of the best managers in the Premier League.
This is his best season so far, however, and Tottenham’s fabulous defensive record (just 21 goals conceded) is largely thanks to their new acquisition.
Written by Kevin McNamara
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