West Ham set for Zabaleta signing
PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 May 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Another over-30 set to join amid calls for youth players to get a chance
West Ham are set to make their first signing of the summer this week with Manchester City star Pablo Zabaleta poised to agree terms for a move.
Players cannot be officially signed until June 1, but it seems that West Ham will look to put things in place before that as the Argentinian right-back, set to be released by City, comes to London this week to discuss terms and have a medical.
For some, the signing of Zabaleta would be a backward step. He is undoubtedly a leader on the pitch and his 33 appearances in sky blue since his arrival in 2008 shows his reliability.
He has won two Premier Leagues, two League Cups and an FA Cup during his time at The Etihad, but it is his age that is a worrying factor for some fans.
At 32, he is reaching the autumn of his career and with Jose Fonte already in the squad at 33, and James Collins, also 333, there is something of an aged look about the West Ham defence.
Memories of the signing former World Cup and Champions League defender Alvaro Arbeloa’s disastrous time at the club also spring to mind and in a week where the club has been criticised for not giving youth a chance, this is another pointer towards the attitude of the club.
Zabaleta will certainly add experience to the squad and he is a winner, but so was Arbeloa and how he copes with the big pitch at the London Stadium remains to be seen.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic met with co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold on Monday to discuss the season and look to the future and it seems that he is safe in his position as manager.
The Croatian was due to go under the knife for a hip operation today (Wednesday), but it seems that he will still be able to play a full part in negotiations for new players.
Head of Recruitment Tony Henry has suggested that the Hammers do not need to recruit the same amount of players they managed to last summer.
“We need two or three, maximum,” he said this week. “If we can get the ones that we want, I think we’ll be a really good team next year.”
If Zabaleta signs, then a striker will become the top priority, although West Ham have reportedly made a £120,000 bid for central defender Sean Raggett from FA Cup heroes Lincoln City.
According to Henry, the attraction of playing at the London Stadium is a big draw for potential players. “Obviously London is a massive thing for players, but so is the new stadium, players come and they love it,” he said.
The season has only just finished, but it seems that West Ham are already in full planning mode for the new one.
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