Keen English student Fabian Balbuena is learning how to come to terms with the demands of the Premier League.
The Paraguay centre-back has had to adapt quickly to a new language, a new country, a new culture and a new type of football since swapping Brazilian club Corinthians for West Ham United in the summer.
And while results have not gone as well as the South American might have hoped, after three months in Claret and Blue, Balbuena believes he is starting to get the hang of life in London and, more importantly, life in the most competitive league in the world.
I struggled a bit in the first weeks after I moved but I think I have adapted already, working day by day and I feel good about how things are going
“I’m in a new stage of my life and my career and I’m adapting very well,” said the No4, who has played every minute of West Ham’s Premier League campaign so far. “I had a little bit of trouble with the language but with time it is getting better and I’m talking English every day and, in general, I’m feeling better every time I try.
“In terms of the results we are playing well but the ball doesn’t want to go in at the moment, but we will keep on working to get the points we need.”
The defender has made more clearances and interceptions than any other Hammer in 2018/19, while also forging a strong partnership with fellow new boy Issa Diop.
Balbuena played at the very highest level of South American football, winning domestic league titles in Paraguay and Brazil with Cerro Porteno and Corinthians respectively and featuring regularly in continental competition with the latter in recent seasons.
With seven senior caps to his name, the 27-year-old is also well-versed in the demands of international football, but he admits the Premier League has presented him with a different challenge altogether.
“The intensity here is bigger, and also it’s possible to play more,” he explained. “In South America, the players fall with minimal contact but here it is different.
“But for me, the most different aspect is the intensity. There are great players in every position on the pitch so that’s why I think everything is more intense.
“I struggled a bit in the first weeks after I moved but I think I have adapted already, working day by day and I feel good about how things are going.”