According to a recent report from Arab News, West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta could be set for a move away in the near future. The Argentine right back made the move to the London Stadium back in 2017 after a very successful spell at Premier League rivals Manchester City, and he has since proven his worth to the Hammers as well.
But with his contract up at the end of the season, the 33-year-old is reportedly eyeing up a move to the Middle East, but such has been how integral he has been to Manuel Pellegrini’s side so far this term, the East London club simply cannot afford to let the £4.5 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) leave.
Ultimately, while Zabaleta will turn 34 in January and is very much in the twilight of his career, he has arguably been one of West Ham’s better players in the early stages of the season, to the point that he has recently kept summer signing Ryan Fredericks out of the team.
In fact, the defender has started their last seven Premier League matches to underline his importance to manager Pellegrini in that right back spot, an area of the field that has been hugely problematic at the London Stadium for some time now – yet it looks as though Zabaleta has filled the void, for the time being at least.
And after a summer of big spending, which has seen the likes of Felipe Anderson and Issa Diop make the move to the London Stadium and indeed impress in the early phase of the campaign, the fact that they are still reliant on Zabaleta down the right-hand-side underlines just why they simply have to keep him at the club – it would be a step back were they to let him leave.
Clearly, the 33-year-old can still produce the goods in the Premier League having excelled in recent victories over Burnley and Manchester United, while he was named captain by Pellegrini against the former at the weekend to emphasise the leadership skills he still possesses – he’s the sort of player one would want around the club, let alone on the field.
And while there will become a time, probably in the not-too-distant future, in which Zabaleta is unable to continue delivering at the highest level, what better mentor for struggling Fredericks than the 33-year-old, who has played 275 times in the Premier League during his career, and has two Premier League titles to his name.
The Hammers certainly took a step forward during the summer in being bolder and more ambitious with their recruitment, and it is beginning to pay off – but it’s clear that Zabaleta, who wasn’t a big-money signing, is still absolutely vital to the club’s success this term.
As such, letting him go would be a case of one step forward, one step back by the East London club, which is why they simply have to keep him beyond the end of the season when his contract comes to an end.
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