Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta
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Pablo Javier Zabaleta Girod

Current Club: West Ham United.

Previous Clubs: Manchester City, Espanyol, San Lorenzo.

Loan Clubs: N/A.

International: Argentina 58 caps.

Trophies Won: Premier League 2011/12, 2013/14. FA Cup 2011. League Cup 2014, 2016. Spanish FA Cup 2005/06. Under-20 World Cup 2005. Olympic Gold 2008. Community Shield 2013.

Now 33, Zabaleta is in the twilight of his career and seems to have settled into being a pure right back, instead of being utilised as cover for left back and defensive midfield, like he used to be. However he no longer has the energy to charge forward and get back the way he used to, which, in many respects, has improved him as he has to pick and choose the right times to get forward.

That has made him more solid defensively, ensured he is not caught out of position as often as most modern wing backs do. Zabaleta has always been one of the better full backs defensively, he can be rash in the challenge but his challenges are strong, forceful even, which often frightens opposition wingers into avoiding getting into a position he can challenge them.

He is also not afraid of 'taking one for the team' and picking up a booking to stop a break from developing, usually picking the right time to do so, rather than just needlessly hauling someone down. Zabaleta is what you would call a clever player, who uses his brain to allow him to still have a positive effect on games, despite slowing down and not having the legs to get up and down the pitch as he once did.

Zabaleta's experience and leadership are very much appreciated by Mauricio Pellegrini, who sees him as someone as who knits together the defence and drives the team on to perform, lifting them when they are struggling. That is one of his biggest pluses, this season, how he just keeps going without letting his head drop.

That has never been a problem for Zabaleta, his problem used to be that his rashness would rise and engulf him and he would go flying into needless tackles, picking up red cards he should never got. Time has mellowed him out a little. Just a little.

As an attacking wing back, he is more of a quick short pass link up player, rather than the type who will look to put a cross in at every opportunity. The Argentine is more refined, looking to play his way into the box before playing it across, if possible. Aerially he is decent, more than a match for most of the wingers he has to face and strong enough to hold them off to win the header.

His first touch and control tend to be very good, as do his passing. He just complements the good ability with workrate and a bit of fire in his belly, rather than having effort and bite to make up for not being very good. That is why, at his peak, Zabaleta was one of the best right-backs in the game and why, even now he is fading and coming to the end of his career, he is still a very serviceable right-back at Premier League level.

Requested by - noel7