BY FORTUNE MBELE
MARVELOUS Nakamba’s failure to play regularly for Premier League club Aston Villa is due to his defensive style of play, says former England international Gabriel Agbonlahor.
The Warriors star, who joined the team for a reported fee of €12 million last year, has struggled to hold down a regular starting place at the high-flying Villa due to the trusted midfield partnership of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn.
He has started just three games in his seven league appearances this term.
Impressively though, Villa have not lost a league game in which he featured this season, winning six and drawing one.
In the three matches that he was in the starting line-up either deputising Luiz or McGinn, the Dean Smith-coached side did not concede a goal, beating Newcastle and Arsenal 2-0 and 1-0, respectively, and drawing goalless with Burnley.
The 26-year-old was outstanding in all the three league matches that he has started, including against the Gunners last weekend, even earning high praises from Smith after the match.
Surprisingly though, everytime he impresses, he is back on the bench the following game.
Agbonlahor is not really surprised though, and expects Nakamba to make way for Luiz when Villa travel to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday night.
The former Aston Villa striker gave his reasons.
“What he (Nakamba) offers is he’s more defensively minded than Douglas Luiz. Douglas Luiz can play that role, but I think he enjoys going forward and getting involved. Nakamba is very strict in his defensive duties. I think it was just perfect timing. Douglas Luiz needed a rest, he’s played a lot of football,” the Villa legend Agbonlahor said.
Luiz was rested against Arsenal.
“He’ll definitely be back for the Brighton game and Nakamba on the bench, but it was the perfect game to rest him for. A game against a good Arsenal side who are going to play attacking football and Nakamba fitted in there perfectly, breaking up the play,” added the former Villa striker, who netted 75 goals in 341 appearances for the club.
Birmingham Mail journalist Alex Dicken, however, does not believe the decision to drop Nakamba in the next fixture is straightforward.
“Dean Smith has a tough decision to make before Aston Villa face Brighton in the Premier League this weekend,” he wrote yesterday.
“The majority of Smith’s starting XI is set in stone, but the head coach does have one interesting call to make in the heart of his midfield. Douglas Luiz was dropped to the bench for the win over Arsenal, with Marvelous Nakamba preferred alongside John McGinn in midfield. Nakamba played well in the anchorman role and managed to nullify the threat of Arsenal’s creative forces,” he added.
Agbonlahor does not doubt Nakamba’s talent though and has urged the Hwange-born player to stay on at the club and fight for his position in the team.
The Zimbabwean has reportedly attracted interest from Villa’s league rivals as well as teams from Spain and Turkey.
- Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara