Manuel Veth –
After spending two years with Corinthians, even playing as the legendary Brazilian club’s captain, Fabian Balbuena has been signed by English Premier League club West Ham United. Despite being one of the club’s cheaper signings at around €4 million, the 26-year-old may prove to be their most crucial.
Fabian Balbuena needs to hit the ground running
While West Ham fans have rejoiced at the club flexing their muscles in the transfer market, it’s not always a sure-fire path to success. Last season did show that Manchester City’s massive spending spree was well placed, but a club a little closer to West Ham’s level, Everton, suffered significantly after making many summer signings in 2017.
Everton’s manager, Ronald Koeman was sacked on October 23rd due to them only securing two wins in nine games after spending over €150 million. The new recruits simply didn’t gel with the club’s current players as they all tried to fit the system of the manager. With signings like Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Lukasz Fabianski, West Ham are already at the €100 million mark.
This is where one of their new players, Fabian Balbuena, can step up to help the process of merging so many new players.
One of the greatest misfortunes to strike West Ham already this season is the loss of commanding centre-back Winston Reid. The big New Zealander has been vital for the West Ham defence, but he’ll, unfortunately, miss the first two months of the Premier League following preseason surgery on his knee. Luckily, amongst a rather youthful defensive corps, Balbuena has the characteristics to fill in for Reid and play as the commanding centre-back that all teams need.
Nicknamed ‘The General’, Balbuena is a rock at the back and commands his fellow defenders to a tee. He played as Corinthians’ captain, showcasing his leadership skills on and off of the pitch. Director of football Mario Husillos says that Balbuena is very strong mentally, has international experience, and is a player of great character and personality.
How will West Ham gel?
Worries of all of the new West Ham faces gelling with the current players under new manager Manuel Pellegrini are well founded. But, bringing in a leader like Balbuena will certainly help them to grow into what could be a very strong team. They could even break the top-half of the league once again and are at 11/10 to do so in the Premier League betting.
When on the field, Balbuena will likely have veterans Pablo Zabaleta and Angelo Ogbonna alongside him. This should make the Paraguayan’s transition to the Premier League easier, especially if he is to play in a leadership role. With club captain Mark Noble in midfield, the club needs a commanding presence in defence to keep the back line organised and diligent. It might not be right away, but Balbuena possesses the traits to become this leader.
There’s a huge season ahead, and expectations are very high for West Ham United. Despite the big-money signings, Brazilian Serie A signing Fabian Balbuena may prove to be the most influential for the Irons. If he steps up in London as he did in Sao Paulo, Balbuena will prove to be one of the bargains of the summer transfer window.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.