Newcastle look set to miss out on signing Club Brugge’s Marvelous Nakamba, as the Zimbabwe Chronicle understand Premier League new boys Aston Villa are on pole position in the race for his signature.
The 25-year-old has been attracting the interest of Magpies scouts for his efforts in the Jupiler Pro League recently, after he made 18 appearances in the Belgian top-flight last term, along with five outings in the Champions League.
United and Villa are not the only sides thought to be interested in the 5 ft 8 defensive midfielder, though, as surprise Serie A high-flyers Atalanta have also been linked with his services following their qualification into the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
Javi Gracia’s Vicarage Road natives Watford are also understood to have shown an interest in Nakamba, but the Hornets have been holding out on making a move as they are waiting to see what the future has in store for Abdoulaye Doucoure amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
KRC Genk, on the other hand, appear to have pulled out of the race entirely, as any side wishing to sign the 12-cap Zimbabwe international faces having to pay at least £20million to acquire his services. That figure could yet rise over the next few weeks depending on how well he performs at the Africa Cup of Nations, as well.
The potential for Nakamba’s stock to increase has sparked Dean Smith’s Birmingham-based outfit to hurry their negotiations with Blauw-Zwart, with Villa keen to strike a deal before the AFCON begins, having just completed a €25million (£22.2m) move for the now-former Club Brugge striker Wesley Moraes – who likewise had been attracting the interest of Newcastle.
However, any Premier League side wanting to sign Nakamba faces difficulties with the 25-year-old obtaining a UK work permit as Zimbabwe are considered one of world football’s weaker nations.
He would also struggle to obtain special dispensation through being handed a reprieve, as it would be unlikely that he is considered an exceptional talent having only played in the Dutch and Belgian top-flights. Nakamba is also not a regular for Zimbabwe, having been overlooked for all of their AFCON qualifiers during 2018.
Missing out on Nakamba as well as Moraes, though, could see Newcastle fail to land three reported targets in little time, as FC Lorient forward Alexis Claude-Maurice recently turned down the chance to become a Magpie by favouring a potential move to the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach.