Zimbabwean international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba remains an English Premier League (EPL) player after his employers Aston Villa opted against selling the 26-year-old in the October transfer window. Nakamba, who was signed from Club Bruges last year for a reported €12 million, made an impressive start to life at Villa Park but tailed off in the second half of the season as Villa toiled to EPL survival.
That led to increased speculation that Nakamba would be swiftly moved on before the start of the 2020/21 EPL campaign, with Turkish giants Galatasaray and Fenerbahce said to be keen on securing his services. The main challenge for Nakamba at Villa Park has been the impressive performances of Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz, who has acted as the ideal anchor to the Villa midfield, allowing the likes of John McGinn and Jack Grealish to express themselves further up the pitch.
Nakamba’s Turkish delight spurned by the Villa hierarchy
Although a loan switch to Turkey was in the offing in the weeks leading up to the closure of the transfer window, a deal was not concluded in time and Villa instead opted to keep him as part of the matchday squad.
Nakamba was an unused substitute for Villa’s last-gasp 1-0 victory away to Leicester City. It was a win which saw Dean Smith’s mean leapfrog into second place in the EPL table. Amazingly, Villa’s odds to win the EPL have shortened markedly in recent days to just 66/1 with bet365, who lead the way in the free bet promotion stakes for football and horse racing markets alike. Villa’s form means that Nakamba will have to bide his time for a chance to start in midfield, particularly with the likes of newcomer Ross Barkley hitting the ground running.
Nakamba, who is the only player from southern Africa to currently play in the EPL, did play a role in Villa’s emphatic 7-2 victory over last season’s EPL champions Liverpool. Nakamba came on for the final ten minutes to shore up the midfield and help Dean Smith’s men close out an unlikely win. At present, he seems to be the back-up option to Douglas Luiz, who recently celebrated a call-up to the Brazilian national squad, such has been the calibre of his performances in a Villa shirt. Luiz was selected for the Samba Boys and started alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona players Casemiro and Coutinho, underlining Nakamba’s challenge to displace Luiz as the main holding midfielder at Villa Park.
Patience will be a virtue for Nakamba
The best opportunity for Nakamba to impress was arguably the Carabao Cup. The Zimbabwean was preferred to Luiz during this competition, but a surprise 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Championship side Stoke City in the last 16 will not have done Makamba’s cause any good at all. Nevertheless, the reality is that this year’s EPL promises to be one of the most congested and action-packed of all time. Given the increasing number of international games and the late start to the 2020/21 campaign, EPL squads are likely to be pushed to their limits.
Many EPL managers have suggested that players are picking up more muscle injuries of late, with the stop-start nature of football in 2020 leading to some players being deconditioned and ill prepared for such a packed 2020/21 fixture schedule. You only have to look at the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City who are already missing key men like van Dijk and De Bruyne respectively to see that Nakamba will almost certainly get a second chance with Villa at some point in the season. He’s by no means one of the club’s highest wage-earners at £32,500 a week, so Villa can also afford to keep him waiting in the wings.