Southampton – Having failed to secure a move to Tottenham Hotspur over the summer, Southampton’s Kenyan international midfielder Victor Wanyama has refocused and is fully committed to the Saints, manager Ronald Koeman said on Thursday.
Wanyama had looked to quit the south coast club and join Spurs for this campaign, but Saints stood firm and refused to do business, holding on to both Wanyama and Senegalese striker Sadio Mane who had also been targeted by bigger clubs.
The episode caused some unease at St Mary’s, with Koeman omitting Wanyama from the latest squad that beat Norwich City 3-0 and saying the player had not been physically or mentally ready to play.
However, Koeman said the pair had talked since the end of the transfer window last week, and Wanyama was fully focused on a Saints return.
“It was important because you like to keep the key players who can make the difference,” Koeman told reporters.
“It was a hard fight but our statement was very clear to everybody — nobody for sale,” he said, referring to the African pair.
Southampton did sell defender Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool and midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United before pulling down the shutters, adding the Dutch pair of Jordy Clasie and Virgil van Dijk from Feyenoord and Celtic, among others.
Southampton’s handling of the Wanyama situation mirrored the club’s handling of Schneiderlin last year when they refused to sell the Frenchman to Tottenham.
Schneiderlin subsequently settled back into the Saints team and enjoyed a stellar season, winning a high-profile move to United.
Wanyama could follow that route next season when he will have only one year remaining on his Saints deal.
“We know the future, Victor knows his future,” Koeman said. “I spoke to Victor and it was a different person yesterday — really different than he was in the last week of the transfer window. He’s back with a real focus for the team, and if he is back like that — he is part of the team.
“He understands the situation, he understood the situation how it was in the last week, and I think ambition is always a good thing for a player, but, OK, it happened and I like to go forward.
“If the player shows real commitment to everybody of the club then I can forget what happened in the last week.”
Southampton face West Bromwich Albion and former Saints striker Rickie Lambert on Saturday. Koeman said Wanyama could start.
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