Middle East Move Possible
West Ham United full-back Pablo Zabaleta is looking for a move to the Middle East when his contract expires at the London Stadium.
The 33-year-old is still a first-team regular with West Ham having played in eight of their 11 Premier League games. But he isn’t expected to be offered a new deal when his contract expires and he is already looking at a move to a less demanding league.
“My heart tells me I would like to play forever, but I will be 34 in January and I need to listen to my body at that time,” the former Manchester City man told Arab News.
“At the end I will know what I want to do and where to go, but I would like one or two more years to carry on playing. At 34 I think it might be the right time to try something different, have a new experience.
“If I carry on playing in Europe, Italy is one of those leagues I haven’t played, but I have always been thinking about the Middle East. I first went to the UAE for the Under-20 World Cup in 2003 and have seen how much the region has changed.
“I’ve been to Saudi Arabia and Qatar with the national team and you see the fantastic progress, football standards improving and passion of fans.
“The League is not as long as in Europe, but there’s still the chance to play for trophies, to play big games competitively like in the Asian Champions League.
“I can’t see myself going to China; the Middle East and America are more attractive.
“I know the Middle East clubs have three or four spots for foreign players and they always try to bring attackers who have more influence on a game. But I’ve been playing in the top leagues and believe I can give experience, versatility and quality.”