Is Vitesse good for Nakamba?

HARARE - Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba’s progress in European football could be stifled after it recently emerged that his club Vitesse Arnhem’s links with English giants Chelsea run deeper than previously thought.

Since 2013, Nakamba’s Dutch club has been owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Chigirinsky, who is a close associate of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic.

The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) has investigated the takeover of Vitesse by Chigirinsky twice in 2010 and 2015 with the findings giving the deal a go ahead.

However, new information has come to light after e-mail exchanges between senior Chelsea and Vitesse executives were presented during an ongoing court case in the Netherlands.

Marcell Ham, a Dutch businessman, who was part of the negations during the 2010 takeover and stayed on as a director is the one who produced the e-mails after he took Vitesse to court over outstanding commission payments.

In court, Ham revealed e-mails whereby Chelsea directors Marina Granovskaia and Eugene Tenenbaum together with Abramovic’s lawyer Bruce Buck all played crucial roles in the negotiations during the Vitesse takeover.

Red flags were raised at the time of the takeover when Chelsea immediately loaned out a number of their players to the Eredivisie club but both clubs did not reveal how deep they are intertwined.

In order to protect sporting integrity, Uefa does not allow two clubs with the same ownership to compete in the same league or competition.

This is where the major problem arises because there are allegations that in 2013 when Vitesse were competing for the Dutch title, Chelsea ordered the club to ease off on their campaign.

Although they had been in first place through the halfway stage of the season, Vitesse ended up finishing sixth thereby failing to qualifying for the European Champions League where they would have probably faced Chelsea.

These allegations were made by Merab Jordania, the man who was used by Chigirinsky to initiate the takeover of the club.

“We had the feeling we needed one more player to win the title, (the Dutch right-back) Kelvin Leerdam,” Jordania told Dutch magazine Voetbal International.

“The transfer seemed to be a done deal when all of a sudden ‘London’ intervened. We were not allowed to be too strong.

“There was nobody in London who hoped Vitesse would become champion or would qualify for the Champions League.”  

It is a clear revelation that while Nakamba and his colleagues would try to give it their best on the pitch, there is a third force behind that will always curtail their efforts.

Winning a league title will always be a special moment in any player’s career and with the looks of things that will never happen at Vitesse due to their links with Chelsea.

Playing in the European Champions League at this rate will always remain a pipe dream for one of Zimbabwe’s best midfielders of this current generation.

This is the ultimate competition that all footballers would one day want to win one day in their careers.

The Champions League is the reason why Bayern Munich and Manchester City hired former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Real Madrid will break the world transfer fee record during every winter break just to make sure they are European champions.

Sadly for Nakamba and Zimbabwe, one of the country’s brightest prospects, who should be rubbing shoulders with best in Europe’s premier club football competition, it is likely never to happen.

Chelsea’s control of key decisions at the club is not the only worrying factor at Vitesse as well.

Since the takeover, over a dozen of young Blues players have been on loan at Vitesse and there are claims these players should start ahead of anyone else.

Although Nakamba has started 21 matches at the club this season, not many others have been lucky enough.

Nigerian striker Abiola Dauda joined Vitesse in 2014 but only made 28 league appearances over the next three years before joining Atromitos in January.

Dauda said: “I do not know what happened, I was put off the squad. The close relationship of Vitesse with Chelsea might have been the cause.

“Often they bring players to Vitesse who need to participate in games. I certainly do not belong to Chelsea, so I was omitted.

“Nobody came to tell me officially what happened. I became the last option in the offensive.

“I told my coach that I have to play, I am not happy on the bench and stands. They still get someone from Chelsea.”

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