West Ham have to signed Pablo Zabaleta from Manchester City on a free transfer. The deal will come into effect once the Argentine’s current contract expires on July 1.
We hope so too, @Pablo_Zabaleta! #WelcomeZabaleta pic.twitter.com/j02Mn7sTY8— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) May 26, 2017
The 32-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Hammers and is Slaven Bilic’s first major signing of the summer transfer window. We have known about West Ham’s interest in Zabaleta since April, as the club looks to improve a porous defence that conceded 64 goals during the 2016/17 Premier League campaign.
What this means for current right-back Sam Byram is unclear; Bilic doesn’t appear to have much faith in the player, despite some promising performances in the last couple of seasons.
Adding a proven winner like Zabaleta to the dressing room would certainly improve the squad’s mentality. He has been capped 58 times for Argentina and enjoyed a glittering career at the City of Manchester Stadium; where he has won two Premier League titles, two League Cups and the 2011 FA Cup.
He has fallen out of favour with Pep Guardiola, but still managed to make 19 league appearances, showing the reliability and consistency that have long been Zabaleta’s trademarks.
Social media reaction to the transfer has largely been positive:
If you don't rate Zabaleta you don't know football— ⚒Sean⚒ (@SeanBurton95) May 26, 2017
Zabaleta agrees to join West Ham. A step up imo— LewisJr (@LewisJr__) May 26, 2017
@davidgold If we actually have signed Zabaleta. Its a good start— ⚒DieHardHammer⚒ (@DieHardHammers) May 26, 2017
My thoughts on the transfer, taken from our Zabaleta verdict article:
Signing Pablo Zabaleta for the wages that are rumoured would be a mistake, £100,000 per week for a 32-year-old is more ridiculous than giving Andy Carroll a six year contract.
I respect Zabaleta's central role in the very successful Manchester City teams of the 2010s, but those days seem to be over. It could benefit the West Ham squad to have a veteran with the Argentine's experience in the dressing room; someone who can inject the squad with a winning mentality - particularly our horrendous defence.
I can't see Zabaleta letting his team lose 4-0 at home after keeping three consecutive clean sheets. Furthermore, he is a durable player [at the moment] who could really add stability in the backline by playing over 30 games every season.
My issue with this transfer is that is smacks of the David Sullivan transfer philosophy of getting in big names on high wages to make the fans feel like progress is being made. For the reported wages, West Ham could invest in a couple of young defenders to really make improvements to the defence - we should be looking to raid the relegated clubs because there have been some promising performances from their players. Particularly Middlesbrough, they have been defensively solid all year long.
I doubt this will happen, Zabaleta will probably be the only defender signed this season and the glaring centre back issue won't be addressed. Plus he's 32! This is a short-term solution to a much larger issue.