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Warriors midfielder Nakamba earns praise in the fight for his Aston Villa future

by Staff Writer
16 Feb 2021 at 14:07hrs | Views
Source: Piqsels
27-year-old Zimbabwe international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has shown a willingness to fight for his future at English Premier League (EPL) side Aston Villa, following a sparkling return to action for the Birmingham club. The defensive midfielder earned a rare start in Villa's narrow win over Arsenal and the former Club Brugge stopper played the perfect screening role for the Villa back four, with praise heaped upon him by Villa boss Dean Smith in his post-match interview.

As of February 11, Villa are just five points off the Champions League places in the EPL with two games in-hand on fourth-placed Liverpool. However, their inability to grind out points could cost them in the long run, with just two draws in their first 21 league games. This explains why their odds of finishing in the top four this term have drifted out to 10/1. They're as big as 500/1 to win the EPL outright in Betfair's football winner odds markets, too.

Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz has often been preferred to Nakamba in recent months, with his start against the Gunners only his third appearance of the 2020/21 EPL campaign. Nakamba, who set Villa back approximately £11 million in the summer of 2019, outshone his more illustrious Arsenal midfield counterparts who cost a combined £85 million.

Partey and Xhaka overshadowed by Nakamba

Source: Piqsels

Nakamba made six key tackles in Villa's narrow win, more than any other player on the field, with Messrs Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka mustering just one key tackle between them. Although his passing success rate of 65% is by no means outstanding, it's what Nakamba brings to the overall solidity of Villa's team that still makes him a valuable member of the squad. It's no coincidence that Villa have kept clean sheets in all three of Nakamba's EPL starts this term.

Smith admitted that Douglas Luiz needed a rest having played "every minute of the [previous] five games". He was delighted to see Nakamba provide "some really good energy" and give the Villa midfield "something a little bit different" which is needed against the more illustrious sides in the EPL. Although Villa pride themselves on being easy on the eye, at times they can be guilty of failing to do the dirty side of the game which Nakamba certainly brings.

Nakamba was the subject of loan interest in January
Nakamba's performance against Arsenal may just have given him a new lease of life under Dean Smith, who was reportedly weighing up offers for the Zimbabwean's services during the January transfer window from Newcastle United and Valencia. Nakamba was one of several midfielders that Magpies boss Steve Bruce was interested in getting over the line on loan last month, eventually bagging Joe Willock from Arsenal. Meanwhile, lowly La Liga outfit Valencia also had eyes on Nakamba to help shore up their inconsistent side in the middle of the park.

It's clear that Nakamba might not be the flashy cherry on top of the cake that Douglas Luiz provides to the Aston Villa midfield, but it's difficult for teams to win trophies and leagues with a midfield full of technical players. Nakamba offers much-needed balance and a solid base to allow the likes of Jack Grealish and John McGinn to do their damage in the final third. Write Nakamba's Villa career off at your peril.

Source - Byo24News