BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS star midfielder Marvelous Nakamba may have earned himself some more time at Aston Villa after producing a faultless performance in his team’s 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old had only featured once for the Villains in league matches before Saturday, and speculation was rife that he would be shipped out in the current transfer window.
Reports suggest that he would be loaned out until the end of the season, and a number of suitors, especially from Turkey are queuing up for his signature.
The imminent arrival of Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson, in a deal worth up to £15,5 million, is another indication, according to other reports, that Nakamba would be axed to free up space for the Frenchman.
However, the Hwange-born star offered a timely reminder of what he is capable of, in a performance that will surely give Aston Villa coach Dean Smith some food for thought.
He replaced John McGinn, who served a one-match suspension for the clash at Villa Park having collected his fifth booking of the season in the midweek defeat at Manchester City.
This game was his first start in a league match since mid-December against Burnley, but he didn’t show any signs of match rust at all.
Playing alongside Douglas Luiz at the base of midfield, Nakamba looked sharp, made strictly accurate passes and had an excellent all-round game.
Often criticised for being too defensive, he was moving forward in the pitch rather than backwards and spraying passes forward often finding danger man and captain Jack Grealish.
According to Premier League statman, Nakamba misplaced just one pass out of a total 65, giving him a pass accuracy rate of 98,5%.
Statistics also show that he made more ball recoveries than any other Villa player.
He was so good that local newspaper Birmingham Mail gave him a 7,5 rating, and was behind only three players, Grealish and goal scorer Bertrand Traore who both scored an 8 while defender Ezri Konsa got 8,5.
“Back in for his first start and first taste of match action since Burnley in mid-December, some five games ago. Kept possession really well in the heart of Villa’s midfield. Always offered short from goal kicks and looked unflustered against Newcastle’s midfield. A much welcome 90 minutes for Nakamba who proved his worth to Villa’s squad with a good performance as he broke up play whenever he could. Did well on his return,” wrote Birmingham Mail.
But some Villa supporters came out to actually dispute the newspaper’s ratings. They felt he was “unbelievable”.
It’s clear that Nakamba doesn’t often get this kind of praise, but he was labelled “outstanding” and “immense” for his performance.
Supporters took to Twitter to speak of their delight at his performance.
Here is what some said about him.
“I thought Nakamba was the best player tonight, not a foot wrong … solid mopping up,” posted Luke.
“Honestly so impressed with Nakamba Marve’s performance tonight. Hardly any games this season and you didn’t hide. Always showing for the ball. The best
I’ve seen you in a Villa shirt,” wrote Fozza.
Tony Tysall said: “Thought Nakamba was, well, Marvellous tonight. Very solid indeed”
“Nakamba was solid tonight. Bloke doesn’t get much game time, but don’t see him making a fuss. Comes in, does a job and always looks happy. What a guy,” said Alex Warren.
Nakamba’s performance will be a welcome relief for Warriors coach Zdravko Logarušic ahead of Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers starting in March.
The Croat’s hope now will be to see Nakamba and other Warriors stars, not only playing outstandingly, but getting regular game time at their respective clubs.
Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara