The defensive midfielder's reputation continues to grow at Celtic Park and a number of big teams are closely monitoring his progressBy Chris Myson
Celtic are ready to reward Victor Wanyama with a new and improved contract in order to keep him away from a number of circling Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Arsenal.
The powerful defensive midfielder has been watched by the Red Devils and the Gunners as they look for options who could add steel to their ranks in the middle of the park, while Fulham have also been credited with holding an interest.
Big-spending QPR are the only Premier League club to have so far made an official offer for Wanyama – the bid arriving in the closing stages of the summer transfer window - but Mark Hughes’ side were unsuccessful with their approach.
The 21-year-old Kenya international has made a positive impression since signing for Celtic and scored in their 2-0 Scottish Premier League victory over Dundee at the weekend.
|WANYAMA'S CELTIC CAREER SO FAR
His contract does not expire until 2015, which means there is no immediate pressure on Celtic, but they are keen to keep the player happy and reward his rising importance within the squad by giving him a significant wage hike in an extended deal.
In the summer, noises from the player’s camp hinted that he may be willing to venture down south and try his luck in England but now the player appears to be keen on staying at Parkhead for the foreseeable future, with him enjoying the experience of playing in the Champions League.
Wanyama said: “Do I see my future at Celtic? Yes, I do.
“I leave these things like contracts to the club and my agent but I’m really happy here and looking forward to staying for as many years as I can.
“All I do is concentrate on the football. Celtic is a big club and we are in the Champions League so I don’t think there is anywhere better.
“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.
“Celtic is a big club and I am always happy to play here and 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.
“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. It is perfect.
“Before the Benfica game was unreal. Standing in front of a 60,000 crowd and knowing it was live on television was great.
“The excitement gives you more energy to keep on going.”
Celtic’s participation in the Champions League has boosted the coffers at the club and manager Neil Lennon admitted earlier in the month that it gives them the opportunity to reward some of the key players.
He named Wanyama in that category, as well as prolific striker Gary Hooper, who is a long-term target of Southampton and previously played under manager Nigel Adkins at Scunthorpe United.
Lennon believes the Hoops’ participation in Europe’s elite club competition, where his side started with a creditable 0-0 draw against Benfica and with games against Spartak Moscow and Barcelona to come, gives them the edge over most Premier League clubs when it comes to attracting or keeping players.
“Without Rangers being here the carrot is that you come to Celtic to play Champions League football,” he said.
“They are going to do that and are going to experience something that will be very, very special – and that other clubs in the Premiership can’t give them.
“Something like 80 per cent of the clubs down there can’t give them Champions League football – but thankfully we have been able to provide that this year and that is the value of being with us rather than moving on.”