Pablo Zabaleta “won’t be at West Ham next season” after captaining the side to a League Cup humiliation on Wednesday night.
That is the verdict of ex-Coventry City and Leeds United striker Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Russell Edge.
Zabaleta made just his second start of the season as a team featuring nine changes from the weekend were thrashed 4-0 by Oxford United, who are 12th in League One.
West Ham arrived at the Kassam Stadium on the back of an outstanding win over Manchester United to reach fifth in the Premier League, but Karl Robinson’s side swept them away.
“West Ham have some great players and they’re a really exciting side, but it shows what can happen if there are wholesale changes and they’re not up for it” Whelan told Football Insider. “But the back-ups were still easily good enough to win.
“Some of those West Ham players should be worried about their futures. You look at someone like Zabaleta, who was a great Premier League right-back, it looks like his legs have gone and he won’t be at West Ham next season.
“At his age (34), he’s not going to get any quicker and he’s playing in a position where his direct opponents are always quick and skilful.”
Zabaleta joined West Ham on a free in the summer of 2017 and signed a 12-month contract extension in May that keeps him at the club until the end of the season.
But Ryan Fredericks is now the first choice at right-back – he’s started all six Premier League matches this season – and the former Argentina international turns 35 in January.