It’s fair to say the Zimbabwe international didn’t make the impact expected off him when he came off the bench to replace the stricken John McGinn early on in Saturday’s worrying 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton.
Nakamba lost track of Southampton’s midfield runners time and again and, just minutes into the second half, it was he who gift-wrapped an early Christmas present for Danny Ings. The in-form striker lashed into the roof of the net after a loose ball bounced off Nakamba’s shin like the twang of a trampoline.
So claims from across the Atlantic that Aston Villa have renewed their interest in Angers enforcer Baptiste Santamaria ahead of the January transfer window certainly don’t feel like a coincidence (L'Equipe).
It is no secret that Villa tried and failed to sign the 24-year-old Frenchman over the summer, making a £6.35 million bid which fell short of Angers' demands.
And with opposition teams slicing through their midfield like a machete through warm butter of late, it doesn’t take a well-paid tactician to work out why a team who have conceded 33 goals in 18 games might want to sign a ferocious ball-winner who averages 2.9 tackles per game in Ligue 1.
Santamaria, who is also a target for Southampton and Everton, actually makes fewer tackles and interceptions per game than Nakamba but he is a more well-rounded player than Villa’s number 11, a spindly-legged spider of a ball-winner with more rough edges than a chainsaw.
With just two league games remaining until the confetti reigns down on New Year’s Day, Nakamba potentially has 180 minutes to prove that he can, in fact, be relied upon to provide protection to a vulnerable backline and put Saturday's error-strewn display behind him.
With the spectre of Santamaria looming, he cannot afford a repeat of that Southampton horror-show.
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