New signing Pablo Zabaleta admits he can’t wait to pull on the West Ham United shirt, after it was revealed that the Hammers will face his former club Manchester City in a glamorous friendly match in Iceland on Friday 4 August.
The historic encounter, at the national stadium in Reykjavik, will mark the first occasion that two English Premier League teams have played against each other in Iceland, and Zabaleta believe it will provide the perfect preparation ahead of the season opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford a week later.
“Of course it will be interesting to face my former club, so soon after leaving,” said the Argentine defender, who signed on a free transfer this summer after nine years with City.
“But more importantly, I am looking forward to playing with my new team-mates, and it will be a great test for us one week before the start of the season.
“It will also be a great honour for West Ham and City to be the first English Premier League clubs to play each other in Iceland. We all saw how well Iceland did in the European Championships last year – they made a lot of friends and it is clear they are a nation who love football.
“We will be proud to represent the Premier League, and I hope we can give the supporters an entertaining match.”
I am looking forward to playing with my new team-mates, and it will be a great test for us one week before the start of the season
Zabaleta will meet up with his new team-mates when Slaven Bilic’s squad return for pre-season training on July 5, ahead of a tour of Europe that will take in training camps in Austria and Germany before the trip to Iceland, and the 32-year-old believes the time away will be of huge benefit.
“I am already looking forward to getting started for next season, and our pre-season schedule will give me a good opportunity to get to know everyone,” he told whufc.com.
“It is about hard work and preparation, but also building the spirit and unity for next season.”