Nobody would have been able to predict how things would turn out for West Ham United this season. The Hammers have had an improved, but inconsistent, campaign under Manuel Pellegrini and will be looking to build on the current campaign in the summer.
Pablo Zabaleta has been an influential figure for the club this season, however, there have been doubts about his future as there has not been any indication as to what the Argentine may look to do in the future.
Antonio Valencia has been linked with a move to the London Stadium this summer as he is set to leave Manchester United in the summer and could potentially replace the current fan favourite.
However, would the Ecuadorian be an upgrade on Zabaleta if the Argentine were to remain? Let’s compare the two decorated players…
As mentioned, there will be concerns that Zabaleta may not be around West Ham for too much longer, with his current contract set to expire in the summer and there has been no clear indication about what will happen.
What is clear, however, is that the Argentine has been excellent for the club this season and has been a mainstay in Pellegrini’s first-team, keeping the likes of Ryan Fredericks out of the team.
His performances have remained at an impressive level and he has been extremely consistent, whilst there could be a number of other benefits of keeping the player on the books beyond the end of the summer.
The 34-year-old, who is valued at £3.6 million (by Transfermarkt), knows Pellegrini better than any other individual at the London Stadium and could also become a mentor for the players that are currently looking to progress and further develop their own games.
TT Grade: B+
As mentioned, Valencia has been linked with a move to West Ham in the summer – which has not exactly been played down by his father who named them when speaking in an interview with El Universo.
And, the South American would have to be considered an excellent target for the Hammers to consider, should Zabaleta decide it is time to hang up his boots at the London Stadium or seek new pastures.
The 33-year-old is highly decorated when it comes to silverware having secured two Premier League titles and a number of other pieces of silverware, so he could bring plenty of valuable experience to the team.
Just like Zabaleta, he would be able to offer some assistance going forward as well, as he is able to put a cross into the box for an attacker to get on the end of, whilst he is still rather solid when tasked with his defensive duties.
TT Grade: B
This is a battle that is so close to call and one that would likely have to depend on what circumstances West Ham find themselves in when the end of the season comes by.
Zabaleta has shown how important he is to the Hammers during the campaign and if they were able to keep him on for another year or so, then that could be the best route for the club to take – making him take this contest just ever so slightly.
However, if the Argentine does decide to call time, then a move for Valencia must seriously be considered.
West Ham fans, do you agree with the battle? Or would you prefer to have Valencia at the London Stadium instead of Zabaleta? Join in with the discussion below by sharing your thoughts with us.
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