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Victor wants big European nights for Saints
Victor Wanyama knows what football’s big European nights are like – and he wants them back.
When the midfielder moved to Saints last summer, in a £12.5m deal from Celtic, he viewed the transfer as a step forward in his career.
However, there was a trade-off involved for the 22-year-old: By completing the switch, he had to give up his place in the Champions League.
At the Glasgow side, Wanyama had been pitted against giants of the game, such as Barcelona, Juventus and Benfica.
With Saints, however, the prospect of Europe remained only an ambition.
However, it is one that he hopes the club can now turn into a reality.
“If we keep performing in this league like how we have been doing, we have a good chance to qualify for the Europa League,” he said.
“For me, I think it is good. It’s a good thing to play.
“If you are not in the Champions League then this is a good thing to have, to play in the Europa League.
“It will also be good exposure for us to have a little bit of experience in (European) football.”
The highlight of Wanyama’s career remains scoring the opening goal in Celtic’s 2-1 home win over Barcelona last season.
It is the sort of night that he craves with Saints.
“Obviously, I do miss them,” he said. “They are really great games.
“You get to play against the bigger clubs and also get a chance to play alongside world class players, so it’s a really good stage to play.”
While he says the goal for Saints this season is a place in Europe, Wanyama explained that there is no specific target in terms of league position.
“Any spot that can put us in the Europa League or play in the Champions League is fine for me,” he said, although the latter is almost certainly out of reach this term. “It would be a great achievement here.”
Wanyama, who said the transition from Scotland to England had proved “a little bit difficult”, returned to action this month after an eight-week spell on the sidelines because of a hairline leg fracture.
He says he is not quite at full fitness yet, but is closing in on it.
However, the adjustment from starting every week to watching from the stands or the bench has not been an easy one for Wanyama.
“It’s been really tough, being eight weeks out,” said the Kenyan, who added that Jack Cork has “done well” in place of him.
“Trying to come back then, it’s always difficult.
“It has been a really tough journey for me, because I didn’t feel the same as before and, now, I’m trying to get back to where I was when I left and, hopefully, in a few weeks I will be there.”