Aston Villa Opinion: Marvelous Nakamba could prove to be an upgrade on Conor Hourihane

According to Birmingham Mail, Aston Villa have been credited with an interest in Club Brugge’s Zimbabwean international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba.

The Lions have already snapped up Brazilian forward Wesley Moraes from Brugge in a club-record deal this summer and Villa are seemingly plotting a second raid on the Belgian heavyweights in a matter of just a few weeks, with Nakamba believed to have caught their eyes.

However, if Villa are really serious about getting their hands on the highly-rated 25-year-old midfielder, they would need to fork out a fee in excess of
£20 million. (h/t Birmingham Mail)

Back last summer, a report from Belgian outlet Voetbal Nieuws claimed that West Ham were interested in signing Nakamba, although a move to the Premier League eventually failed to materialize for the Zimbabwean international. However, with Villa now weighing up a swoop for him, the 25-year-old might as well earn a coveted move to English football this time around.

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Nakamba managed only 23 appearances for Club Brugge in all competitions this past season due to injuries, as Club Brugge finished runners-up to Genk in the Belgian top-flight. The 25-year-old, however, featured prominently for the Belgian outfit in the group stages of the Champions League and caught the eye with some dominant and authoritative displays at the heart of the midfield.

The defensive midfielder started his career with Highlanders and Bantu Rovers back in Zimbabwe before making his move to Europe with French club Nancy in December 2012. However, his spell in France proved to be an ill-fated one, and after featuring largely for the club’s reserve side, Nakamba completed a move to the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem.

It was at Vitesse that he enjoyed his breakthrough in Europe and carved out a big reputation for himself as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder in the Dutch top-flight. Nakamba established himself as a first-team regular and made a total of 77 appearances for Vitesse in all competitions before being transferred to Club Brugge back in the summer of 2017.

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Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Nakamba is a strong, tenacious and hard-working midfield enforcer, who is noted for his high levels of stamina and uncompromised work-rate.

A tough-tackling and all-action presence in the middle of the park, Nakamba is not only adept at breaking up the play and winning the ball back for his team with his incredible tackling skills but he also has the range of passing to switch the play and hold things together.

The 25-year-old, who will be expected to add to his 12 international caps for Zimbabwe in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, averaged an eye-watering 4.4 tackles, 3 interceptions and 1.2 clearances per game in the Champions League last term, whilst his pass accuracy percentage of 84 was also equally impressive.

To put things into perspective, Aston Villa have already demonstrated their top-flight ambitions by striking deals for Wesley Moraes, Kortney Hause, Anwar El Ghazi and Jota, but that should not stop them from looking at more options to bolster their ranks.

The arrival of a few more top-quality players would definitely enhance Villa’s chances of survival in the Premier League and Dean Smith needs to ensure that he has all his bases covered before the next season gets underway.

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Villa are currently not in desperate need of bringing in central midfield reinforcements, given that the likes of Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane did a good job last season.

Smith preferred a midfield trio in the Championship with a defensive midfielder at the centre complementing two attack-minded No.8s on either side of the pitch.

Hourihane and Glen Whelan were rotated in that No.6 role defensive midfield role but Villa currently find themselves short of options in that position following the release of experienced players like Whelan and Mile Jedinak.

Hourihane doesn’t have any prior experience of playing in the Premier League and central midfield is one area of the pitch where a lot of depth is desirable.

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Keeping that in mind, bringing in Marvelous Nakamba, who is a destroyer in the defensive midfield area, would certainly be a good choice for Villa, given that the 25-year-old already has a lot of experience under his belt.

He has shown strong signs of promise in recent seasons, and at 25, there is still a lot of time left for him to make significant improvements to his game. The mooted £20 million price tag might be an issue but Villa should test Club Brugge’s resolve with their financial muscle.


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