Kenya combative midfielder Victor Wanyama has insisted he would be delighted to commit his long-term future to Celtic despite persistent Premiership interest in his services.
Parkhead boss Neil Lennon is hoping to utilise Champions League income to tie Wanyama to a new contract. That would contain a significant wage increase to reward his development since arriving from Belgian side Germinal Beerschot in a £900,000 deal 14 months ago.
QPR and Fulham both considered summer moves for the Kenyan midfielder, while he has also been scouted by Arsenal and Manchester United.
Wanyama, though, is adamant playing in Europe’s elite competition with the Parkhead club satisfies his ambitions.
“I leave things like a contract to the club and my agent but I am really happy here and looking forward to staying for many years,” Wanyama, whose deal runs until 2015, told the daily mail.
“Do I see my future at Celtic? Yes, I do. When you look at the support from the fans and the atmosphere for the Champions League games, you cannot get better than it is here.”
“Before the Benfica game last week was unreal. To be standing in front of a 60,000 crowd, with every part of the stadium full, was great. The excitement gives you energy to keep on going.”
“When you play in Europe, it is a bonus. It is easier to be seen everywhere around the world because everyone in the world is watching the Champions League.”
Noises emerging from Wanyama’s camp at the tail end of last season suggested the player could be keen to speak to English suitors. The 21-year-old denied the speculation affected him, however, and revealed he regularly discussed the situation with his family.
“Celtic is a big club and I am always happy to play here,’ said Wanyama, who yesterday helped launch the new 125th anniversary Celtic kit. “At the moment I am really happy.”
“I talk to my parents a lot and they advise me to keep my head just on football and not think about anything else. That really helped me. I just concentrated on football.”
Wanyama scored his third goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 SPL win over Dundee and is reveling in a regular central-midfield berth after switching to defence at times last term. He also feels his job has been made easier by the presence of Celtic skipper Scott Brown.
“I feel much more comfortable in midfield,” added Wanyama. “I think I can only get better. I am sure I will keep on learning.”
“Scott is a big help. He is a good leader. Playing alongside him is great because he makes it easier, with his communication and the way he drives the team on.”