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How big has Victor Wanyama's impact on Montreal been?

by Staff writer
06 Aug 2021 at 15:35hrs | Views
Victor Wanyama is one of those soccer players who rarely make the headlines, but play a vital role for their team. Existing in the less than glamorous defensive midfield role, the Kenyan rarely chips in with goals and assists for his side. However, he provides an essential link between defense and attack, shutting down opponents while also getting the ball back into the offensive third. The 30-year-old was a key reason why Montreal managed to make the playoffs last time out and could push them to do the same again this year.

Henry Knows the Importance of a Midfield Anchor

When Thierry Henry decided to sign Wanyama from Tottenham Hotspur in 2020 as one of his three designated players, he knew exactly what kind of player he was getting. During the head coach's playing days at Arsenal, he lined up alongside one of the greatest midfield anchors in Premier League history. Patrick Vieira was a key contributor to Arsène Wenger's early success in North London, and he helped the Gunners to three titles in 1997-98, 2001-02, and 2003-04.

Wanyama hasn't enjoyed the same success as the Frenchman, but he does share several of the World Cup winner's attributes. Mauricio Pochettino was so convinced by Wanyama's abilities that he signed him twice, first at Southampton in 2013 and then at Spurs in 2016. Had the combative midfielder not been plagued with injuries at the latter club, some argue he could have gone on to be one of the best players in the English top flight. He certainly has the potential to be up there in the MLS if he can stay away from the treatment room.

Can Montreal Go One Better This Time?

Montreal made it to the playoffs last time out for the first time since 2016, but they only got as far as the Play-in Round. At this stage, Henry's side lost 2-1 to New England Revolution, who subsequently reached the Conference Finals. Henry decided to step down as head coach at that point and has since been replaced by Wilfried Nancy.

Despite the change of leader, Montreal have continued the current season in good form. Their chances of winning the Eastern Conference are slim; as of August 2, Betway has listed their odds as +4000 for them to top the table. However, there is a possibility that Nancy's side could make the playoffs again this term.

Captain Wanyama has had to adapt to a different style of play under Nancy, who isn't as keen to take risks on the ball as Henry was. There have been a few occasions this term where defensive errors have occurred because players have been trying to be too clever, and the new coach has said he wants to eliminate this from Montreal's playbook. This style of play may work in Wanyama's favor in the long run, as he is at his best when tasked with shoring up a defense and not attempting too many risky passes.

Other Signings Are Helping to Boost the Team

Wanyama isn't the only player at the Impact who can turn the team's fortunes around so that they can start looking up the table on a more regular basis. There have been a few other key signings in recent times who, once settled, could be major boosts to Nancy's side.

Bjorn Johnsen and Djordje Mihailovic are two stars that Nancy needs to make sure are firing if he wants to have any success as coach at the Saputo Stadium. The former may take a bit of time to adapt to the American League after spending the best part of his career in the Eredivisie, however, he has shown his prowess in front of goal. The latter is already experienced in the MLS, after having spent three years with Chicago Fire. The 22-year-old is also a member of the United States national team and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

Wanyama has yet to have a notable impact at Montreal in terms of defensive numbers, but his leadership is helping on the pitch. Impact has a player here who could be a major boost over the next few seasons, so Nancy needs to build his squad and style of play around this team member.

Source - Byo24News