West Ham should be searching for a new right-back as Pablo Zabaleta is approaching the end of his career.
The Argentina veteran has less than one year remaining on his contract with the Hammers but has started 12 Premier League games this season in the absence of Ryan Fredericks. Despite Zabaleta insisting that he has no plans to retire, Manuel Pellegrini would be wise to identify a long-term replacement for the 33-year-old soon with Fredericks struggling to adapt to life in the Premier League.
The January transfer window is now less than a month away, giving the Chilean the opportunity to bolster his options in defence.
One man who should be of interest is Hertha Berlin wonderkid – Valentino Lazaro. Valued at £13.5m by Transfermarkt, the Austria international was earmarked as a star of the future after progressing through the ranks at Red Bull Salzburg in his homeland. After a loan spell in the Bundesliga, Hertha opted to make the move permanent in the summer for just over £5m, and Lazaro has hit the ground running yet again.
The 22-year-old’s versatility is arguably his biggest strength – Lazaro is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, right winger or right-back where he has featured prominently for Hertha this season. The youngster has proved to be an attacking threat for his side, scoring two goals as well as registering three assists for his team-mates. However, Lazaro doesn’t neglect his defensive duties as he reads the game excellently, averaging two interceptions per game in the Bundesliga this season (WhoScored). Improving with every game, Lazaro has all the attributes to succeed in the Premier League and would the perfect successor for Zabaleta in the Hammers defence.
Luring him from Germany could prove costly, however, it might just be worth it for Pellegrini’s men.
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