What will experienced new signing Alvaro Arbeloa bring to West Ham?
Slaven Bilic has finally been able to add to his options ar right-back at the new London Stadium this transfer window following the signing of free-agent Alvaro Arbeloa, who after completing a medical put pen to paper on Deadline Day with the Hammers on a one-year deal.
The 33-year-old full-back saw out his Real Madrid contract and left the Bernabeu back in June, and Bilic wasted no time in bringing the experienced Spanish international to East London.
With Michail Antonio having featured prominently at right-back, and youngster Sam Byram being the only other option at present, the signing of Arbeloa will not only free up Michail Antonio to play in his preferred right-wing position – where he is in fact most effective for West Ham, with a league high of eight headed goals since the beginning of the 2015/16 season playing out on the right flank, including two goals this campaign against Bournemouth and Manchester City – but he will also prove an ideal mentor for Byram, who is still getting to grips with the Premier League following his transfer from Championship outfit Leeds United.
The Spaniard also comes with swathes of experience not only in European football but in the Premier League itself. A product of the Real Madrid academy, he burst onto the scene with Galician club Deportivo La Coruna before signing for Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool for £2.6 million in 2007.
He made 95 appearances for the Anfield club, including one in a Champions League final, and was a first-team regular on Merseyside before he returned to Real in 2009 for £3.5 million, where he has since won the La Liga title in 2011/12, two UEFA Champions Leagues in 2013/14 and 2015/16 two Copa Del Rey titles and the FIFA Club World Cup of 2014.
He won 53 caps for Spain between 2008 and 2013 and is renowned for venturing forward to help the attack by seeking to put balls into the box, which may be a prime means of service for forward Andy Carroll or even his right-winger Michail Antonio if he chooses to venture into the penalty area.
With none of the Hammers’ strikers reaching double figures in the league last season, service as well as extra firepower will be important and whilst Arbeloa is a solid option defensively, who despite roaming forward doesn’t often find himself caught out, he is a fantastic crosser of the ball and enjoys getting forward even now as a veteran.
His regular appearances in tournaments such as the Champions League also means he will bring the big game experience that West Ham need, particularly with their lofty European ambitions which they have now twice failed to live up to in the qualifying rounds.
His experience will also be beneficial in key matches and with Ryan Cresswell out with a long-term injury, the Spaniard could even provide competition for Arthur Masuaku on the left flank, since he is capable of playing on the left of the back four also.
All in all, given that the veteran is a free agent, the signing of Arbeloa is a clever piece of proactivity in the transfer market by Bilic, and if it is experience which he wishes to add to his ranks, he has certainly identified the right kind.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by katabasis. https://www.flickr.com/photos/katabasis/
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