By Robson Sharuko
Zimbabwe international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba has thrust himself into the global media spotlight after revealing his dreams of playing for five-time European champions Liverpool as he feasts in a cocktail of rave reviews triggered by his flying start to life in the Belgian top-flight league.
The 23-year-old midfield enforcer, who is already being tipped as a future Warriors captain because of his calmness and addiction to professionalism, has already made his presence felt in Belgium just two months after his arrival from the Netherlands where his star also shone brightly.
Belgium has become a springboard for many African players to leap into the lucrative English Premiership with Ivorian superstar Yaya Toure, who plays for Manchester City, and his brother Kolo — who had stints at City, Liverpool and Arsenal — using that route in their journey to England.
However, because of the Warriors’ world rankings, in which the senior national football team have been out of the world’s top 50 countries on average on the FIFA table in the past two years, Nakamba can only secure a move to England on the basis of a special dispensation provided for highly-talented players who can be deemed by the English FA of having the potential to add real value to the league.
In August this year, Nigerian international midfielder Ogenyi Onazi was denied a work permit to join English Championship side Birmingham City from Turkish club Trabzonspor the 24-year-old being a regular in the Super Eagles. Although Nigeria were ranked 38th in the world in August, the FA considered the Super Eagles’ average ranking in the past two years, which was 54th, outside the top 50, to deny the former Lazio star a chance to play in England.
Despite all the boardroom hurdles which Nakamba would need to leap just to be given a work permit to play in England, this has not stopped a flood of media reports linking the midfielder with a move to Anfield giants Liverpool.
This followed an interview which Nakamba granted to a Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad this week in which he revealed his dream was to play for Liverpool with the Zimbabwean’s flying start to life in Belgium fuelling expectations that he might not be in that country for the long haul.
The former Bantu Rovers man signed a four-year deal worth an estimated $4 million to move from Dutch side Virtese Arnhem, whom he helped win the country’s flagship knock-out tournament, to Club Brugge, whose 14 league championships haul is only second to powerhouse Anderlecht. Club Brugge are also 11-time Belgian Cup winners and 14-time Belgian Super Cup winners while also finishing as runners-up in the league championship 22 times in their 125-year history.
They are the only Belgian club to reach the final of the European Cup, which is now called the UEFA Champions League, and — interestingly in Nakamba’s case — they were beaten by Liverpool in the 1978 final. The box-to-box midfielder, who has now firmly established himself as a member of the Warriors, has been outstanding at Club Brugge and has helped them to the top of the table after 10 matches — winning nine and only losing one for an impressive points haul of 27 — six clear of the chasing pack.
Their last victory was a 3-2 away win over Knowledge Musona’s struggling KV Oostende who are having a nightmare this season as they sit bottom of the table with only five points from one win, two draws and seven losses in their 10 matches. Nakamba, who is Club Brugge’s Player of the Month for September, revealed that Liverpool are the club his parents support and would like to try and please them by making the grade at the Anfield giants.
And that has triggered an international media storm, with a number of media outlets in Liverpool feasting on his comments because of the way that the midfielder is highly rated as a player who could hit the big time very soon. “The footballer’s father is a big Liverpool fan, which has clearly influenced the Brugge star. He is very keen to please his parents, so much so that Liverpool are described as his ‘dream’ club,” the 90 Minutes website reported.
“The 23-year-old has shown that as well as being a stopper in midfield, he is also technically gifted. Liverpool have been known in recent years to identify young players with great potential. This would suit Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool, as their transfer policy is believed to surround buying potential for low costs to sell on for bigger fees.
Liverpool’s recent form has been indifferent, with the club looking to get their league campaign back on track. Their next game sees them facing Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Sunday. Despite only being a matter of months into his Club Brugge career, he has his eyes set on where he wants to be in the future — Premier League giants Liverpool.
“But at the rate the 23-year-old is going in the Belgian League, it won’t be long before he is looked at by Europe’s top clubs, and we may see the ‘Bulldozer’ in the Premier League sooner rather than later.’’ The Liverpool News website has even gone to the extent of describing the possibility of Nakamba’s move to the Reds as “one of the more enjoyable transfer rumours we’ve written about in recent weeks.’’
Nakamba, who has played in the UEFA Champions League this season, has already been hailed as the new Timmy Simmons of Belgian football. Simmons is a revered legend at Club Brugge. “New Simmons comes from Zimbabwe,” said the De Standard newspaper with Club Brugge chief executive Vincent Mannaert saying he is “a number six, a replacement for Timmy Simmons.’’
Interestingly, Nakamba was linked to another Merseyside giant, Everton, during the European football off-season before he ended up signing for Club Brugge who also provided a springboard for Nigerian star Daniel Amokachi to move to England where he played for the Toffees.
Former Zimbabwe captain Moses Chunga, Honour Gombami, Cephas Chimedza and Vusa Nyoni are some of the locals who have played in Belgium which was also the first European port of call for Zambian legend Kalusha Bwalya who played for Cercle Brugge. The Herald