ZIMBABWE international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has reportedly caught the attention of English Premier League side West Ham United, as his football profile continues to grow after a memorable debut season with Belgian champions Club Brugge.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 24-year-old, who has previously courted interest from Premier League giants Liverpool and their neighbours Everton, has, according to reports, impressed West Ham United’s new boss Manuel Pellegrini.
The Hammers, according to WestHamWorld.co.uk, are in the market for a defensive midfielder to replace unsettled Spaniard Pedro Obiang and Senegalese star Cheikhou Kouyate, who was last week sold to Crystal Palace.
And with the Premier League transfer deadline on Thursday, Nakamba has emerged as one of the leading contenders, although, according to Belgian media outlets, Club Brugge are reportedly reluctant to lose one of their most prized assets.
“A source close to WestHamWorld.co.uk claims West Ham are interested in signing Zimbabwean central midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, from Club Brugge as a potential replacement for Pedro Obiang,” the English media outlet reported last week.
“Nakamba signed for the Belgian outfit last summer from Vitesse for just £3 million and could be tempted to sell the player to make a hefty profit on him.”
This is the third time in just over a year that Nakamba has now been linked with a move to England since reportedly catching the eye of former Everton boss Ronald Koeman last year and is still on the books of Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse.
Last December, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was reported to have considered signing the combative midfielder before opting for highly rated Guinean Naby Keïta.
“The Zimbabwe international’s ‘Marvelous’ performances last season, which helped secure a domestic double for his club in his first season, caught the attention of Jurgen Klopp,” WestHamWorld.co.uk noted.
“The Liverpool manager initially saw Nakamba as a potential back-up signing to Keita. So you can only imagine how good he is on the basis of Keita’s performances.
“Nakamba has very strong characteristics for a deep-lying central midfielder, which is what Manuel Pellegrini is in the market for now. He is a tough tackler who doesn’t hesitate to challenge and loves to shoot from distance when given an opportunity. He also has outstanding ability to regain the ball from the opposition and showcases fantastic on-field concentration.
“The 24-year-old is valued at £7,2m by transfermarkt.com, but could cost at least double that if the Hammers are to secure his services,” the report read.
The reports in England have led to speculation in the Belgian media about Nakamba’s future at Club Brugge.
In fact, the Belgian champions also appear to be preparing for the Zimbabwean’s departure after identifying France Under-20 star Jeando Fuchs, who is currently on the books of Ligue 2 side Sochaux, as his potential replacement.
Club Brugge on Friday announced that the former Bantu Rovers player had started light training last week after being sidelined for almost three months while hinting there were on the lookout for a defensive midfielder as cover.
The knee injury which Nakamba sustained during his team’s last league game of the season in May saw him missing Zimbabwe’s Cosafa Cup campaign in Polokwane, South Africa, in June.
“Naka has been out for quite some time now. He has joined the group at training, but hasn’t completed a group training in nearly three months. We’re glad to be welcoming back his quality, energy and positivism, but we also need to give him the time to get fully fit,” the Belgian champions said on their official website.
“We tried making up for his absence with completely different profiles, and they did well so far. (Mats) Rits manned the pitch in the last two games and did his job well, but we do realise he’s not your average defensive midfielder. It might be we will be attracting someone for that specific position.”
Club Brugge, who kick-started their domestic title defence with a 5-2 win over AS Eupen last week, head straight into the group phase of this season’s Uefa Champions League by virtue of having won the Belgian league title last season.