Is Marvelous Nakamba ready for one of Europe's major leagues?

Marvelous Nakamba of Zimbabwe Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

When Marvelous Nakamba joined Belgian giants Club Brugge from Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands, there was the inescapable sense that the move would actually represented a step in the wrong direction.

The player himself might well have felt a tinge of regret as his former club went on to reach the group stages of the Europa Cup while Club Brugge could not get past the Champions League preliminary rounds, as is often the fate of Belgian teams in Europe.

Fast forward to the end of the season and the Zimbabwe star is in dream land after another campaign of astonishing consistency, with his superb midfield displays reportedly attracting admirers from far and wide.

At club level, Brugge enjoy a two-point lead over Anderlecht at the top of the standings going into the last three matches of the season, and Nakamba stands a great chance of winning his first championship medal.

The combative deep-lying playmaker has in the past been linked with English giants Liverpool, and it now seems a matter of time before he becomes the first Zimbabwean player of his generation to grace a major European league.

It is recognition well earned for the midfielder, who initially struggled in his early days in Europe with French side Nancy before eventually finding his range after moving to Vitesse.

The 24-year-old was groomed at Menthembe Ndlovu's Bantu Rovers in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, making his top-flight debut as a tiny 16-year-old back in 2010. Such was the impression he made back then that his European exploits hardly surprise Ndlovu.

"I am not surprised," Ndlovu told KweséESPN. "I am delighted for him, absolutely, but I think not surprised.

"He was always, in my view, a player with potential beyond Zimbabwe," he added. "It was clear, at least to me early on that he had that potential."

Nakamba is now set to enter a new phase in his career as he contemplates a move after just one season in Belgium.

The Italian media has reported an interest from Fiorentina, while Schalke 04 have been mentioned as a potential destination in Germany. The list of admirers could certainly begin to lengthen once the transfer window opens.

Club Brugge, on the other hand, will understandably be reluctant to let go of a key member of the team, but if a move does eventually materialise, Nakamba could find himself pitched into a more challenging environment.

Some teams buy merely for depth, meaning prolonged periods on the sidelines could become inevitable, thereby testing Nakamba's confidence and character.

At Vitesse, Nakamba showed an ability to overcome adversity and win over his head coaches after a difficult start which saw him manage just eight league starts in his debut season back in 2014.

It was all systems go the following season, however as he clocked up a staggering 30 starts, with his consistency shining through.

There is a captivating mix of flair and tenacity to Nakamba's game, qualities which enable him to thrive in deep midfield areas where he uses his sheer strength to win duels, and his sharp brain to the team help retain possession.

Hard-working, disciplined and well grounded, Nakamba also manages to endear himself to both the fans and the authorities.

He accumulated another 31 starts during the 2016/2017 season before deciding it was time to shift base to Belgium.

Nakamba also needed character to force his way into the Zimbabwe team, as then coach Calisto Pasuwa, a die-hard conservative, had initially appeared reluctant to break the Willard Katsande/Danny Phiri midfield partnership.

However, the Hwange-born star also proved his mortality after flopping during the 2017 African Cup of Nations, leaving many neutrals wondering what all the fuss was about.

Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro, who coached Nakamba in the Zimbabwe U-20 team, feels it is about time the player moves to the next level.

"I know he has been doing very well and I am happy for him," Mangwiro told KweséESPN. "We can only wish him well, but he has the talent to make it on the big stage.

"He has improved a lot in terms of his skill and physic since those early days. I am sure he is ready to play for any team now."