Mitchell Hall > West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena has recently been linked with a move away from the Premier League after seemingly falling out of contention for the starting spot. Moyes will now have to consider his options carefully to decide if he wants to pursue a new contract for the Paraguayan center-back, or rely on a mix of recruitment and existing options.
The General, as he is known, put in some strong showings alongside defensive partner Angelo Ogbonna towards the start of the season; however, he lost his place after a small knock allowed Craig Dawson to come into the side and demonstrate his ability. Since then, even the injury of Ogbonna could not open the way back for Balbuena, the center-back pairing in current favour being Dawson and Diop. It is understandable then why Balbuena might wish to explore options in other countries where he can return to first team football.
The inclusion of Diop within the squad, and the rumours of a more involved season next year for youngster Frederik Alves, suggests then that Moyes is gearing up to inject some extra youth and energy into the back line. This philosophy in particular could unsettle Balbuena, who is now approaching 30 years old. With the experienced and adept Ogbonna and Dawson, and the young Diop and Alves, there does not seem to be much of a place left for him.
This is not to say Balbuena is completely redundant, as he has the ability to provide a dependable and capable backup in the event of an injury crisis. Even now we find ourselves with Balbuena being our first backup option, and one injury could see him feature in the immediate future. He has a role to play at West Ham if he were willing, however at 29 and receiving interest from other teams it would likely take a considerable wage offer to convince him to give up first team football for the last years of his career. This investment is likely not worth it when we have academy prospects already who can act as 5th choice center-backs in the event they are required.
Balbuena has been in and out of the first 11 since his arrival in 2018, however he has always put in dependable performances and earned his starts, contributing in memorable moments such as a dramatic goal line clearance to secure the first visiting victory at the new Tottenham stadium, as well as kicking off the unforgettable 82nd minute comeback earlier this season. Fans will surely remember his time with us as positive if he does leave, if not overly spectacular, but only time will tell if events follow this most likely path.