Entering his final year as a Premier League footballer, West Ham United defender Pablo Zabaleta can look back on his career and be proud.
The Argentinian full-back has enjoyed a successful stint in England, winning the Premier League on two separate occasions with Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini decided to sign the 34-year-old in 2017 with his experience surely a big factor in the decision to bring him to the London Stadium.
Zabaleta has struggled for game time this season in East London and completed his first stint of the campaign in the 0-0 draw against Aston Villa on Monday evening.
The Argentinian was brought off the bench for 21 minutes in the Midlands after Arthur Masuaku was given his marching orders by Mike Dean after picking up two yellow cards.
Zabaleta admitted after the game to the club’s official website that he needs to be ready for anything that Pellegrini throws at him as the season progresses.
“In the last game when Arthur got sent off I was probably the only one who could come on and play as a left-back and you have to be ready for those moments,” he said.
“You just give your best for the team.”
“This will be my last season in England, so I’m just enjoying every training session, every single minute on the pitch. There are plenty of games this season, so I need to be ready for every opportunity. The whole team has to be ready and fit.”
That opportunity could surely come sooner than he expects, and the 34-year-old could be in line to feature against Manchester United on Sunday, after impressing against Villa.
Zabaleta looked a threat down the left-hand side in the final quarter of the game and finished the match with a 100% pass success rate according to WhoScored.
His cameo against Villa will certainly have given Pellegrini a selection headache ahead of the game against the Red Devils, and Zabaleta should expect to play some part at the London Stadium.