Manuel Pellegrini is ready to hand Pablo Zabaleta a new central role next season, according to West Ham Way.
The Hammers site, which is an excellent source of club news, claim the Argentina international could be moved into a central position, either in defence or even midfield, to make way for new right-back Ryan Fredericks.
West Ham announced Fredericks as their first summer signing last week on a deal that West Ham Way report is worth £50,000-a-week.
Given that Zabaleta has spent virtually the entirety of his stellar career at right-back, it would represent a major turn-up for the books if he was played in the centre next season. The Argentine was a mainstay of the team in his debut season, starting 37 of the 38 Premier League fixtures following his arrival from Manchester City on a free transfer. Zabaleta is a class act but he turns 34 next January and his lack of pace and mobility will be a growing issue in the coming season. Hence why Fredericks has been signed on a free transfer to provide vim and vigour down the right. Argentine Pellegrini knows countryman Zaba inside out after managing him for three years at City. He will also know the player he is set to take on next season is not the same as the one who was integral to a title-winning side in 2013-14. Nevertheless, the 58-times international has the class and understanding of the game to slot into a central role, where the need to be super-mobile is not quite what it is out wide.