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Will this Saints star be missed if he leaves this summer?

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Victor Wanyama is a player that divides opinion at Southampton. Some fans would love to see the Kenyan stay at Southampton whereas the ever-expanding anti-Wanyama camp can’t wait to see the back of him when he leaves St. Mary’s, which inevitably appears to be this summer. But when the defensive midfielder’s time is up on the south coast, will he be missed?

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It’s a big question and one that many Southampton fans often revert to social media to discuss and debate. The powerful midfielder is young, freakishly strong and can be unbeatable on his day. But you just have to look to where he’s been over the past six weeks or so to see one of the biggest criticisms of his game; his discipline.

The 24-year-old has spent the past six weeks suspended after picking up his third red card of the season in Saints’ win over West Ham in early February. He could be in line for his return to action in Sunday’s clash between Saints and fellow Europa League qualification hopefuls Liverpool. Ronald Koeman had words with Wanyama after the rash challenge on Dimitri Payet that saw him notch his hat trick of red cards for the season, claiming that the Kenyan ‘has to learn from his mistakes’.

He recorded his second red card of the season in the away game against Norwich, when his commitment to Southampton was questioned after two silly challenges got him two yellow cards. It seems to be a common theme that, whilst he can shrug off any player who dares challenge him with complete and utter ease, he still makes naïve challenges that result in him getting punished.

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However, Wanyama’s recent absence provides a strong claim for the pro-Victor camp of Southampton fans. Since Wanyama’s dismissal against the Hammers, Southampton’s impressive run of form and defensive record came to an end, with the Saints winning two, losing two, drawing one and conceding six in the process. Those that want Wanyama to remain at St. Mary’s will point to that slump in form and argue their case for how crucial he is in the middle of the park. His physical presence and combative nature functions as a key cog in the way Southampton play.

When Koeman opts for a back four, he can drop in between the centre backs to allow the full backs to bomb forward, adding security to the defensive line. When Saints play a back three, not only does it give him a slight bit of extra freedom, but he can hold back to allow one of the centre backs to advance forward when they build offensive moves from the back.

However, a feeling amongst Southampton fans is that the St. Mary’s faithful don’t get to see the best of Wanyama on a more frequent basis. The Kenyan seems to be a shadow of the player that partnered Morgan Schneiderlin in Southampton’s midfield last season, leading to suggestions that the now Manchester United midfielder made Wanyama look better than he is. Wanyama’s most notable performances this season have coincidently come against the ‘bigger’ teams. It seems as though Wanyama sees those games as a job interview with his contract reaching its final year in the summer and the 24-year-old having itchy feet to leave the club.

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His pre-season this campaign was blighted by throwing his toys out of the pram when he was denied a move to re-join former boss Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs – a case of déjà vu for the Southampton board after an identical scenario with Morgan Schneiderlin the summer before. Wanyama had the perfect opportunity to replicate the man who he formed a formidable relationship with for two years at St. Mary’s.

Schneiderlin got over his initial tantrum, knuckled down, performed admirably and left Southampton in a positive and respectful manner to a club who, at that moment in time, were in a better position than Spurs. Wanyama had that opportunity this season but his reaction to being refused a transfer has been the complete opposite to that of Schneiderlin.

It seems inevitable that Southampton will be forced to offload Wanyama this summer with it not looking likely that the Kenyan will sign a new contract. A move for Wanyama in the summer will see Saints have to settle for a fee lower than his market value but that won’t bother Ronald Koeman who has built up a reputation of being very shrewd with his transfer dealings.

Schneiderlin’s replacement Jordy Clasie has looked better with each game after a slow and difficult start, and Chelsea misfit Oriol Romeu was a great piece of business by Koeman after impressing this season. The duo arrived at Southampton for just over the £12.5m Southampton splashed on Wanyama showing Koeman’s ability to grab a bargain. Both Clasie and Romeu in addition to set piece specialist James Ward-Prowse, who’s yet to make a midfield position his own, and the hunger and exuberance of the highly rated Harrison Reed provides a strong competitive foundation to Southampton’s midfield if and when Wanyama leaves Southampton.

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Wanyama’s physical presence and ability to bully players in order to dominate the midfield will definitely be missed, but the aptly nicknamed ‘Mighty Kenyan’ will be much easier to replace than Morgan Schneiderlin. So, all in all, will Southampton miss Victor Wanyama if he was to leave this summer? For sure. Is he irreplaceable? Absolutely not.

Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by David Price.

Dan is a Journalism student at UWE and is an aspiring football journalist. His first ever football match was Southampton's 3-2 win over Leeds in 2003 and he has been a Saints fan ever since.

English Premier League

Tottenham should target Mario Lemina as long-term Mousa Dembele replacement

The Lilywhites should begin planning for life after the Belgian international.

Jake Jackman

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Mario Lemina
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The upcoming summer is going to be important for every top-six team for different reasons and they will all be looking to compete for the title.

Tottenham have been on the brink of achieving something special under Mauricio Pochettino. They have established themselves as a regular Champions League team and have played some excellent football, but they have yet to deliver a title challenge from post to post and that is their next challenge.

Throughout his time in North London, Pochettino has been reluctant to spend big money on a ready-made world-class player. The Argentine prefers to sign potential and mould a player in his own image. This summer, he will need to strengthen his squad once again as he lacks depth in a couple of positions.

One area of the pitch that he will look to add reinforcements is central midfield. Mousa Dembele has been the star in that position, but he is now 30 and he can’t be expected to play every match across all competitions.

Meanwhile, Victor Wanyama has only played 14 times in the Premier League and seems out of favour with Pochettino. Eric Dier and Harry Winks are both good options, but neither have pushed on in the way that Tottenham would have hoped.

There is a lot of quality in the middle of the park at Tottenham, but there haven’t been two players to make the positions their own. The answer to their midfield problems could come from an unlikely place.

Southampton have been a good stepping stone club since their return to the Premier League and, despite their impending relegation, they could have one more jewel worth pursuing.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mario Lemina has had a mixed first season in England, but there is no doubting his quality in midfield areas. The Gabon international arrived from Juventus and it was considered a coup at the time. He may not have thrived in the manner many expected, but it has been tough to shine in a team battling relegation.

He is a similar midfielder to Dembele in many aspects. Lemina is very effective at winning possession and he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. The 24-year-old averages 2.3 dribbles per game, which is only fractionally lower than the 2.5 managed by the Tottenham midfielder.

Considering Lemina is playing his first season in a new country, this is an encouraging stat and suggests he can become the powerful ball-carrier that Dembele has been in recent seasons. In terms of regaining possession, the Southampton man averages 2.1 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes.

This is superior to Dembele, who averages 1.14 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes. There are times when players are stained by a relegation, but the stats underline the impact that Lemina has had on games since arriving in England and in a better team, he could be a revelation.

Southampton are not going to be in a strong negotiating position if they are relegated, as expected. Despite their struggles this season, they have a lot of quality in their squad and there won’t be a shortage of takers for a lot of their players.

Lemina is the standout in their squad and his experience with Juventus means that he has the mentality to step up to one of the top six clubs. He looks a perfect fit for Tottenham and would be a great long-term replacement for Dembele.

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English Premier League

Southampton could be left looking foolish as Matt Targett pushes for promotion

The England under-21 international is hoping to win promotion with Fulham.

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Fulham are firmly in the fight for promotion to the Premier League. The Cottagers are chasing Cardiff City in the hunt for the automatic places and will have a shot at the play-offs if they do not make it into the top two. Fulham’s brilliant form has been largely down to the arrival of a loan signing from the Premier League. Despite Newcastle United’s own struggles, Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent to Craven Cottage to try and find some form. The Serbian has done just that, scoring goals for fun in West London. But the impact of another loanee cannot be understated.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Matt Targett arrived from Southampton at the end of January and has gone on to become an integral member of the Fulham first-team. Targett has played 15 times since his move to the club, even finding the back of the net once.

The Saints man has been solid defensively and a threat going forward for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men.

For Southampton, loaning him out could prove to make them look foolish. Whilst Fulham are pushing for promotion, Southampton are desperately scrapping against relegation from the Premier League.

Whilst Ryan Bertrand may be the out-and-out first choice at left-back Mark Hughes’ recent switch to a back three could certainly have seen Targett playing a role in the matchday squad at St Mary’s once again.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

But above anything else, it will be the principle of the matter.

Mauricio Pellegrino was not a fan of Targett and therefore sent him on his way, but he should still be around the club and making an impact in the fight for survival. The fact Southampton, who are currently five points adrift of safety, could get relegated whilst a player they loaned out wins promotion is just bad PR – pure and simple.

It will certainly be interesting to see just where Targett ends up next season, and which division he will be playing in.

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Everton

Would Tottenham or Everton be the best move for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand?

The 28-year-old has been linked with a move away from the south coast this summer.

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After being told by Southampton bosses that the club could not afford to lose both him and Virgil Van Dijk in the same season, this summer may finally see Ryan Bertrand depart Saint Mary’s.

The Sun report that Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle are among the clubs interested in a £25 million bid this summer, following on from Manchester City‘s attempts to lure him north last summer.

The 28-year-old has again shown himself to be a reliable Premier League defender this season but faces a tough choice on where to go next with a departure looking likely as the Saints struggle at the wrong end of the table.

With Tottenham and Everton leading the way, it may not be a simple choice for the versatile defender.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

A move to Spurs would provide the ex-Chelsea man with a return to the Champions League, a competition he won whilst with the Blues, but would also face more of a challenge to walk straight into the first team.

Ben Davies has been performing well at left-back, with Danny Rose also still at the club despite injury problems, and so he may be forced into a less comfortable role on the left of a back three, a position which Jan Vertonghen has made his own.

At Goodison Park, Bertrand can see his role as a leader in the team right from day one. With Leighton Baines not getting any younger, the club is clearly on the look-out for a replacement and he could be that man.

The doubt over a move to the Toffees would be regarding the instability at the club. Sam Allardyce’s future is anything but certain and Bertrand’s loyalty to his previous two clubs may mean he seeks a long-term project and avoid adding to the list of expensive failures that Everton racked up last summer.

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