By Eddie Chikamhi
Zimbabwe international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba looks set to survive the January transfer movements despite falling down the pecking order at English Premiership football side Aston Villa.
The 26-year-old has been a subject of intense speculation with strong links to a January exit to Turkey where giants Galatasaray are desperate for his signature.
Nakamba has seen little action for the Villans this term and it was suggested the move could boost his chances of game time.
Aston Villa appear to have a surplus of midfielders with Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Nakamba, Conor Hourihane, Ross Barkley and Henri Lansbury all lining up for selection.
Barkley is only on loan from Chelsea while Lansbury is surplus to requirements.
Nakamba has been on the periphery and Hourihane doesn’t command a regular starting place either.
Instead, McGinn and Brazilian Douglas Luiz have formed an impressive central midfield partnership for Dean Smith’s side.
But Nakamba, who has always been touted as Smith’s fallback plan if anything happens to his two key men, was given the biggest hint that he is still in the plans after he was handed a rare 90 minutes in the goalless draw against Burnley recently.
The 26-year-old has played just four times in the English Premier League, and even that has totaled 103 minutes of football with the season approaching the half-way mark. “Every time I’m needed, I’m always ready for the team,” Nakamba told Villa TV after making his first Premier League start of the season against Burnley a fortnight ago.
“We have a group of good players who are pushing each other in training.
“We have to continue to give our best in each and every game.
We have to try to keep getting better and better,” he said.
Nakamba began last season as a key player in Smith’s side but finished last campaign with only 13 Premier League appearances.
Recent news that Villa were also targeting Uruguayan international Matias Vecino from Inter Milan was believed that it could further scupper Nakamba’s chances of playing in Smith’s side.
Italian media reported that Vecino received “offers’’ from Villa and West Ham United to move to the Premier League this transfer window.
Vecino has played almost 100 times for Inter since his £21.5 million move to the Italian Serie A giants from Fiorentina in 2017.
The 2018 World Cup star has been linked with a number of clubs recently.
However, Inter manager Antonio Conte has poured cold water on Villa’s hopes of landing Vecino’s signature by dismissing talk of players leaving this January.
Villa manager Smith also hinted that he was not in a hurry to conduct any business on the transfer market during this transfer window.
“We are looking at it in general terms of whether there is anything we need to do. We are certainly not desperate in terms of players we need to bring in or go out.
“We have our finger on the pulse but I don’t envisage us doing an awful lot, to be honest. January windows are difficult. But yeah, it is going to be a pragmatic approach,” said Smith.
Nakamba has been a long-term target for Turkish giants Galatasaray and it had been reported that the club has renewed their bid ahead of the January transfer window.
The Birmingham Mail reported that claims have been made in the Turkish press that Galatasaray remain keen on the Zimbabwe international and are proposing a loan move for Nakamba, who has struggled for game-time this season and is said to be keen on getting regular football elsewhere.
Galatasaray’s Super Lig rivals Trabzonspor were also reportedly chasing him.
Meanwhile, Football Insider yesterday reported that Aston Villa were weighing up letting midfielder Hourihane leave this month. The versatile midfielder has been an integral player during his four years at the club but has struggled for game time this season.
A Villa source told Football Insider that club chiefs were considering allowing Hourihane to head out of Villa Park before the February 1 cut-off, most likely on loan.
Hourihane was a key player for Villa last season on their Premier League return.
But the galaxy of stars who joined last summer, including Ollie Watkins, Ross Barkley and Bertrand Traore, has seen him slip down the pecking order this season.
Smith has kept a settled side, with McGinn and Luiz forming an impressive central midfield partnership.
Hourihane can also play further up the pitch in attacking midfield roles but has made just three Premier League starts among five appearances in all competitions. The Herald.