Midfielder Victor Wanyama became the first Kenyan to sign for an English Premier League club after completing his ‘dream’ £12million move to Southampton from Scottish champions Celtic on a four-year contract.
The 22-year-old Kenyan international, who was officially unveiled at St Mary’s after penning a four-year deal believed to be worth in the region of £30,000 per week, insisted he was fulfilling a long-held ambition by taking his place in the Premier League.
But thanking the Parkhead club for giving him the platform to do so, he tweeted: ‘I have a day of mixed emotion. Happy to play in EPL, honoured to be the 1st Kenyan to play in EPL ... But VERY SAD to leave PARADISE.’
And in reference to the No 67 shirt he wore, Wanyama added: ‘The club has been great you fans incredible... 67 will always be in my HEART. I hope you wish me well.’
Kenya international Wanyama was the Scottish Premier League’s young player of the year last season and scored a header in the 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona.
His transfer smashes the previous Scottish export record of £9.5m paid by Spartak Moscow for Celtic’s Aiden McGeady in 2011 but levels Southampton’s record signing alongside the £12m they paid for Bologna’s Gaston Ramirez last summer.
Wanyama, who revealed he had been won over by the south-coast club’s dogged determination to land him, had already said his farewells to his Celtic team-mates on their current German tour before jetting off to seal the bumper deal.
‘I am happy to be part of Southampton’s squad,’ said the powerful midfielder. ‘It means a lot because it has been my dream to play in the Premier League and now I am here.
‘Finally it has happened and we’ve come to the end of negotiations, so I am delighted. There were many clubs that inquired about my services over the past season, but it’s Southampton who kept on trying to acquire my services, and that trust is very important.
‘Southampton is a good club and it has good players, so I just want to train hard and work hard to be a part of the starting XI. We’ll see where that will take me. I’m very grateful to be here.
‘I’ve seen that the stadium is great and the dressing room is looking good, and I know some of the players. I hope they will help me and I think I will get along with the others, so it will be good.’
Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino was delighted to finally get his man but appeared to take a swipe at the player’s advisors for previously slowing up the deal over personal terms.
‘I am very pleased to have secured the signing of Victor because we are a big admirer of his talents and he will fit in well to the team here,’ said the Argentinian. ‘I want to stress that the deal could have been done sooner, but this shows that we do business on our terms. The most important thing is that ourselves, Celtic and the player are all happy with the way it has gone.
‘The fact that a lot of top European clubs were also keen to sign him shows what an attractive prospect Southampton Football Club is to a player who had his pick of the teams in England and abroad.
‘I’ve watched him perform at the top level in the Champions League, and I believe he will be a valuable addition to our Premier League squad for the season ahead,’ added Pochettino, for whom Wanyama is his second signing of the summer following the £8.5m arrival of Lyon’s Dejan Lovren.
Speaking in Germany ahead of his team’s last tour match here against Union Berlin, Celtic manager Neil Lennon said: ‘I would like to wish Victor all the best with his move to Southampton. He is a good young player and I think the price tag reflects the performances he’s put in and the work we’ve done to develop him.’
Celtic have made a whopping profit on Wanyama after snapping him up for a bargain £900,000 from Belgian side Germinal Beerschot two summers ago. He shot to prominence during last season’s run to the Champions League last 16, where he scored in the historic 2-1 win over Barcelona last November, and was quickly being linked with a number of leading English and European clubs. Agencies
Southampton proved to be his most determined suitors — albeit Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City also made a bid when Saints’ move appeared to have collapsed at one point — but Pochettino revealed last week he had never given up on the deal.
Lennon has already intimated he will reinvest the Wanyama money in a replacement and in fresh contracts for some of his remaining Parkhead stars nearing the end of their deals.