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West Ham urged to revive interest in Zimbabwean international midfield powerhouse

Marvelous Nakamba
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According to Belgian publication Voetbal Nieuws, Club Brugge midfielder Marvelous Nakamba was linked with a move to West Ham in the summer. However, a move to the London Stadium failed to materialise and the 24-year-old continued to ply his trade in the Belgian top-flight.

Nakamba started his professional career with Zimbabwean outfit Bantu Rovers having a brief stint with French Ligue 2 side Nancy but rose to prominence with his impressive performances for Eredivisie outfit Vitesse Arnhem. Belgian giants Club Brugge brought him in the summer of 2017 and he made a total of 35 appearances for the club last season.

After a season of mediocrity under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes, West Ham appointed Manuel Pellegrini as the manager to turn the club’s fortunes around. The Chilean was given a huge transfer budget and the Hammers made the headlines with the mega money signings of Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Issa Diop.

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Great things were expected when West Ham snapped up such high profile names in the summer but things didn’t quite go according to the script for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. In fact, West Ham made the worst possible start to the season with four consecutive losses, which must have given the fans some ominous signs of a bottom half finish once again.

However, the Hammers got their campaign back on track with wonderful performances against Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton and bagged five points from thee games against the top half teams.

It would be fair to say that Manuel Pellegrini’s tactical tweak helped the Hammers get back to winning ways. He changed the shape of his team from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 and deployed 19-year-old Irishman Declan Rice to shield the rearguard alongside Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble in a more advanced role. Rice obliged with his commanding displays in central defensive midfield and has earned rave reviews for his strong performances.

While Rice and Obiang have done really well, 31-year-old Mark Noble has shown significant signs of slowing down. Quite clearly, the veteran is just carrying his body around but his legs need an ice-bath at the halfway mark. Suffice to say, he doesn’t have the same tenacity anymore that used to make him such a potent midfield engine in his younger days at the club.

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Granted, Noble has been West Ham’s long-term trusted servant but Pellegrini shouldn’t let sentiments creep in. The Hammers should revive their interest in Nakamba, who should add a lot more value to the midfield and they should hesitate to offload Noble for that purpose.

The 24-year-old is a midfield powerhouse filled with a lot of energy who excels with his game-reading abilities. He is capable of operating as a deep-lying playmaker where he not only links up the play with short passes but is also adept at releasing his teammates into open spaces with perfectly measured long passes.

The Zimbabwean’s superb anticipation skills allow him to break up the play with crucial interceptions and he is not afraid to go into tackles. As a matter of fact, the 24-year-old averaged 3.5 tackles, 2.4 interceptions, 1.5 dribbles and 3.1 long balls per game in the 2016-17 season in the Eredivisie. These numbers should speak volumes of his ability as a central midfielder. Furthermore, he is a player defined by high levels of concentration and composure, which should make him all the more invaluable to the Hammers.

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In other words, he is the perfect long-term successor to Mark Noble and his style of play is a lot similar to Pedro Obiang. Hence, West Ham can reach new heights if Nakamba and Obiang complement each other in the midfield with Declan Rice in a shielding role.

That said, Pellegrini should not hesitate to revive interest and make a new offer for the African in January.