By Innocent Kurira
Aston Villa fan-forum writer Ardan Beveridge has described midfielder Marvelous Nakamba as “a man to rely on”.
Nakamba’s few appearances for Villa have been met with mixed feelings, with some feeling the Zimbabwe international’s type of play is too defensive, while others argue that he is perfect in protecting the defence as opposed to attacking and dictating play.
Limited game time at Villa saw Nakamba being linked with a move in the last transfer window, with Turkish side Galatasaray and La Liga campaigners Valencia showing some interest.
Beveridge wrote: “During the summer, I wrote of how the Zimbabwean could turn into a key player in the Villa midfield; if given the opportunities to ply his trade. Whilst the former Brugge man has only started three league games this season, that trio of matches have all ended in claret and blue clean sheets.
“With every game that passes where Nakamba has played (either from the start or when introduced from the bench), the appreciation of his performances has grown. Apart from internal sources at the club though, few pundits have given the player credit for his part in Villa’s performances. Since Nakamba is not currently a regular starter, to a degree, this is understandable.”
According to Nakamba’s stats compiled by Beveridge, the midfielder has successfully received 95.7 percent passes in his direction compared to the 95.3 percent Liverpool’s Thiago has received.
This statistic shows that when in possession, Villa’s man is responsible for more ball-playing actions; more play funnels through with his influence than it does at Liverpool with Thiago. The players around Nakamba clearly value his midfield worth.
In reference to the top five European leagues as well as European competitions this season, Nakamba ranks 96th for touches in his defensive penalty area. At 4.4 touches per 90 (compared to midfielders’ average of 2.4) he is responsible for breaking up opponents’ moves as the last line of defence, as well as starting counter-attacks for Villa.
In the same broad context as the previous statistic, Nakamba has posted high numbers for defensive action this season.
In terms of blocking passes, the Zimbabwean records 3.10 blocks per 90, a clear indication that he breaks up play and nullifies opposition attacks in motion.
This figure is actually rather incredible, placing Villa’s defensive midfielder in the top one percent midfielders in Europe.
He is just 0.08 off the leading midfielder, Ander Herrera, at 3.18 blocks per 90.
On clearances, Nakamba ranks highly too at 2.2 per game and is among the top 10 percent midfielders in this aspect.
Another aspect that may go unnoticed is Nakamba’s know-how of when to clear the ball from a position of danger, helping thwart opponents’ scoring chances.
After a tough first season in England, Beveridge says Nakamba is now a player to be relied on and if rumours that Douglas Luiz is returning to Manchester City in the summer are true, Nakamba may be given the chance to shine, as the Brazilian is the main reason the Zimbabwe midfielder remains on the bench. The Chronicle