Zimbabwean midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, was signed by Aston Villa for around £11 million on the first of August last year.
Since his arrival, the 26-year-old has struggled for consistent game time – starting only 19 Premier League games, scoring and assisting none.
Despite the variation in personnel selected to operate central midfield, when given his chance, Nakamba has frequently offered conflicting displays.
Against Norwich in October, he arguably outplayed any other player on the pitch as he helped the Villans to a five-goal romp, however, in the 3-1 loss at Villa Park against Southampton in December, he was integral to the self-destruction displayed by the hosts – gifting the saints a goal after a lazy first touch in the penalty area.
First season was always going to be difficult?
Post lockdown, a selection of Villa players returned seeming fitter, and more adept to the Premier League. For example, the likes of Douglas Luiz and Ezri Konsa. Dean Smith recently pointed the finger at this whilst stating why he believes Villa won’t be strugglers again – “it takes time and you have to adapt, you have to get the feel of it”.
This would give the impression that in his second season as a Premier League player, the midfielder should be hardened up to the quality of opponents that he faces on a weekly basis. Much like the way that Luiz in particular returned.
The excellent form shown by the Brazilian since the resumption may give Villa fans an optimistic outlook on the future of Nakamba.
The deep lying playmaker still has time to develop and with the possible departure of some midfielders this summer, Nakamba may become a prominent feature in the starting XI in seasons to come.
Despite the promise that I’ve just described, it’s clear that Nakamba didn’t return to training showing the same invigorated form that Luiz did.
Nakamba had to settle for a spot on the bench nine out of ten times in the mini-season – being introduced seven times. The one start that he did make was a 1-0 defeat to Wolves.
Success or Failure
Based on the excitement that greeted the Africans arrival at Bodymoor Heath last year, it’s fair to say Nakamba hasn’t quite lived up to the billing in his debut campaign.
Even though there have been several moments to forget for the former Brugge man, moments of quality have still decorated his first year.
The nutmeg he delighted fans with against Crewe in the League Cup, or the tackle that was (somehow) deemed a foul in the final of that competition have both shown the Villa faithful that Nakamba certainly brings a level of pedigree to the club.
Given a sustained duration in the team, I believe he can cement a starting position in the first team for seasons to come
With plenty more still expected, the future could be Marvelous…