This fact hasn’t been lost on former Premier League player Tony Cascarino as he proceeded to gush about the importance of the experienced right-back behind-the-scenes.
Cascarino stated that throughout the history of football, successful clubs have relied on experienced players and highlighted Hammers duo Mark Noble and Zabaleta in the process.
The pundit suggested what a positive impact the defender could have on a dressing room, pointing out a positive atmosphere makes a massive difference and shared how you can build a side around him, knowing his experience can help guide others.
“You know how you have Milner and Henderson at Liverpool running the show? And you go back over the history of football and you can look at many clubs who have had success, they’ve always had experienced players,” said Cascarino on talkSPORT (6:26am, Saturday, September 28th).
“He’s got Mark Noble and Pablo Zabaleta at West Ham.
“Now Zabaleta may not play every week but everyone I’ve met has said what a great pro he is, and you have them in your dressing room then bring in other players around them who’ve you spent money on, you can create a really good side.
“As long as you keep that togetherness, it makes a massive difference.”
Zabaleta has only played 31 minutes of Premier League action this season and was one of the players on the pitch when the Hammers embarrassingly lost 4-0 to Oxford United in the League Cup earlier this week. (Source: WhoScored)
The 34-year-old did okay against the League One side, he did make two tackles, four clearances and registered one interception, after all, but considering the level of opponent, you thought he would have done better. (Source: WhoScored)
Zabaleta can’t deliver performances good enough to oust Ryan Fredericks from the first-team currently, which isn’t a surprise as the defender knows himself that his career is coming to end in English football as he previously stated this season would be his last in England. (Source: Peter O’Rourke)
Yet that doesn’t mean he doesn’t warrant his spot in the Hammers’ squad.
Zabaleta has won the Premier League twice during his career and appeared 295 times in the league, so Cascarino no doubt is spot-on to gush about the sparingly-used player as behind-the-scenes he likely is proving to be a positive influence due to his experience and professional attitude.