NEWCASTLE United are closely monitoring Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama’s situation after the Kenyan international intimated he wants a move to the Premier League.
The Journal understands that Newcastle had the midfielder, who is only 20, watched several times at the turn of the year as they saw him as potential back-up if Cheick Tioté left in the January transfer window. Wanyama has caught the eye of many top clubs, not only the Magpies, with new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers a confirmed fan. And they have all been put on high alert for the player who over the last few days has let it be known he wants a move to England this summer.
His age, position and style of play all fill the credentials of the type of player Alan Pardew wants to bring to Tyneside, even if Tioté stays at St James’ Park, which for the moment seems more than likely.
Celtic sources have revealed manager Neil Lennon is so desperate to keep his prized asset that he has told club bosses to place a rather unlikely £14milion price on Wanyama’s head.
No SPL player is worth that kind of money. However, Celtic did turn down a £7million offer from newly-promoted Southampton for their top scorer Gary Hooper, so the Scottish giants are in a position to stand firm and demand a big transfer fee.
Although a minimum of £5m, and even that would probably not be enough, is what they would be looking for a player who cost the Glasgow club just £900,000 from Belgian side Beerschot AC 12 months ago.
Lennon does know that he needs to sell one of his best players this summer to continue rebuilding his team ahead of their Champions League campaign, so Wanyama would be reluctantly allowed to leave if Newcastle or anyone else offered serious money. While the cash-strapped Scottish football scene is no longer the fertile ground for talent it once was, the talented Wanyama, whose brother McDonald plays for Inter Milan, is an exception and was the most scouted player in the SPL last season.
Newcastle were a constant presence at Celtic games during the winter-time, when coincidentally he enjoyed his best period of the season.
The other interested parties include Swansea, where Rodgers was of course manager, QPR, Stoke City and Everton who benefited greatly from signing a player north of the border in January by landing Croat striker Nikica Jelavic.
Wanyama particularly showed up well in Celtic’s Europa League campaign against the competition’s eventual winners Athletico Madrid and Serie A’s Udinese, who finished third in the Italian top league last season.
The Kenyan, who played his country’s 1-0 defeat to Namibia in Friday’s World Cup qualifier, is an intelligent central defensive-minded midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and an excellent reader of the game. He has also performed well when asked to move back into central defence.
Newcastle have talked with Ajax’s Vurnon Anita (right), although as we reported yesterday a deal was far from being anywhere near completed, who is a similar player to Wanyama but who has obviously played at a higher level in the Dutch league.
However, the Kenyan, 21 in a fortnight, could well prove to be a shrewd signing given how good a player he has become so early in his career.