BY TERRY MADYAUTA
ZIMBABWE football legend Norman Mapeza has urged midfielder Marvellous Nakama to consider a move to Turkish giants — Trabzonspor in the event his English Premier League side Aston Villa is relegated tomorrow.
The Warriors midfielder is staring the grim prospect of dropping out of the lucrative league after just one season, having joined from Belgian side Club Brugge at the beginning of the current term.
Aston Villa, one of the English League teams that has been followed by most Zimbabwean fans since their own star switched to the league, are one of the three teams involved in the relegation battle on the final day of the season, together with Bournemouth and Watford.
The Dean Smith-managed side are one rung above the relegation zone and will stay up if they win their final game at West Ham and third from bottom Watford do not win away at Arsenal.
However, a draw or a loss complicates their relegation scenario.
In the event that Villa, who spent more than £140 million on transfers after gaining promotion last year, get relegated, Mapeza wants Nakamba to consider offers from Turkey.
“It will be a good option for him,” said Mapeza, who spent eight seasons playing in the Turkish Super Lig for several clubs including Galatasaray SK, Ankaragücü, Altay SK and Malatyaspor.
He was only the second Zimbabwean player to play in the Uefa Champions League, appearing in the competition with Galatasaray in the 1990s.
“Trabzonspor is one of the biggest clubs in Turkey. When you talk of football in that country, you will be talking about Galatasaray, Beśiktas, Feberbache and Trabzonspor. But it all depends with him as a footballer what he really wants to achieve at the end of day.
“We hear some players talking about moving to a certain club because he wants to play Champions League football and better wages. Movements of players will always be there for different reasons better known to the players and their management teams,” the former Warriors skipper said.
Nakamba is reportedly on a US$66 000 wage a week and is one of the top earners at the club.
Trabzonspor are currently second in the Turkish Super League log standings, a position which qualifies them to play in the Uefa Champions League play-offs next season.
They travel to relegation-threatened Kayserispor today for their final match of the season looking for a draw to secure their place in the play-offs.
Nakamba and his Villa side, though, remain confident that they can beat the drop.
“What a massive win tonight for the team and our fans,’’ Nakamba tweeted after Villa’s massive 1-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday this week, a result that saw them moving up to 17th on the log standings and out of the relegation zone because of a better goal difference against Watford who sit precariously on 18th position.
“Nothing is impossible, there are ways that lead to everything. Our focus now turns to the weekend.’’
Aston Villa now go into tomorrow’s match against West Ham United knowing their future in the English topflight is in their own hands.
West Ham have nothing really to play for.
“We control our own destiny and that’s what we wanted to have going into the last game,” Smith told reporters yesterday.
“It was looking unlikely and that we’d have to rely on others, but results went our way… and we’re above the dotted line.
“The most important thing is to be above that dotted line on Sunday and we know we have to win to guarantee that. We’ll be going all-out to win.
“We’re also mindful of the fact that although they (West Ham) are safe now, they’ve been very good recently. They had a massive win against Watford and a big point against a really in-form Manchester United in the week.”
Villa had struggled for form since the season restarted last month following the COVID-19 hiatus, with a six-match winless run denting their survival bid. However, Smith’s charges have picked up seven points from their last three games.
“It’s been physically demanding on myself and the coaching staff, it’s been tough for the players,” Smith added.
“To come into a period of games with less training than you would normally have, that was always going to be tough… These lads have managed to deal with it so far. We’ve got one game to go and we know it’s a massive one.”