The art of defending is something West Ham have been unable to master this term in the Premier League. Only the bottom three, Norwich City, five, A.F.C Bournemouth, five and Aston Villa, six, have kept fewer clean sheets than the Hammers’ seven this season. Further damning news is that four of those seven clean sheets have come against the bottom three sides.
The Irons’ achilleas heel has often been of their own making, and that is precisely why they must allow Fabian Balbuena to depart this summer. The centre back has committed two errors leading to goals in his 17 Premier League appearances this season. Of all the outfield players in the division, only Jan Bednarek has committed more, three.
It is a damning indictment that Balbuena has caused opposing sides to score more often this season than he has found the net himself, one Premier League goal, and it may be part of the reason that the Irons are reportedly willing to let him depart this summer.
Of West Ham’s central defenders only, Issa Diop has made fewer tackles, 0.1 per match, than the Paraguay international, but the Frenchman has started 16 times more in the top-flight. Perhaps more damagingly, Balbuena has been dribbled around 0.9 times per match, the most of any Hammers centre back this season.
It appears that the 28-year-old is making costly mistakes leading to opponents scoring, while also failing to stop them using more traditional defensive measures. Ultimately, Balbuena is proving to be somewhat of a liability with his displays when he has featured this term. Despite his calamitous campaign, he may even turn a profit, given the defender arrived for £6.5m and is valued at £8.55m (Transfermarkt).
Sadly, his performances have dropped off of a cliff over the summer after what was an incredibly promising start in London. Over the course of his first Premier League season, the 28-year-old featured 23 times and recorded an average match rating of 6.98. However, this term that has fallen to 6.51, making him the lowest rated centre back in the league for West Ham.
It has already been suggested that the Paraguayan central defender had just nine games to save his career in East London and since the restart, his has started only once. Unfortunately, after what was a promising debut campaign, it appears that Balbuena’s time with West Ham is heading towards its conclusion.