Zabaleta: Samir Nasri can help us a lot
The right-back knows the Frenchman better than anyone in the Hammers squad, having played alongside Nasri at Manchester City for five seasons between 2011 and 2016, winning two Premier League titles and an EFL Cup together.
And, having proved himself to the manager who led them to the second of those two titles and EFL Cup triumph, Manuel Pellegrini, Zabaleta says Nasri will add the priceless ability to prise open top-flight defences.
Samir has been working really hard to build up his fitness level, so if he reaches the best level, I think he can help us a lot
“I know Samir very well,” the Argentinian confirmed. “As a player, I think he is one of those players who will bring quality to the team.
“You can see, in some parts of the games, we need a player who can keep the ball and keep possession for the final pass in the final third for the strikers.
“If you look, we lost Lanzini at the start of the season and Jack Wilshere was probably the player to replace Manu but also he’s been struggling with injuries, so I hope Samir can keep himself fit.
“He’s been working really hard to build up his fitness level, so if he reaches the best level, I think he can help us a lot.”
Nasri’s arrival comes at a time when West Ham are arguably playing their best football yet under Pellegrini.
The Irons have won six of their last nine matches in all competitions, rising to tenth in the Premier League and reaching the Emirates FA Cup fourth round.
Zabaleta knows they are far from the finished article, particularly with a number of first-team players absent through injury, but he is optimistic for the Hammers’ future.
“If you see the team has been improving since the first game of the season,” he said. “We’ve been playing some decent stuff in the games that we won and probably the last two games we didn’t play in the way that this team wants to play.
“You can see the manager is working really well with the team and he wants his team to play attacking football and to win games. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we play the same style and this is good.
“Hopefully we can continue improving as there is still a long way to go until the end of the season but what Manuel has done for the club has been great so far.”
The next challenge for Zabaleta, Nasri and company comes in the shape of Arsenal, who visit London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime for a mouth-watering London derby
The Hammers lost 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium back in August – one of four straight defeats to start Pellegrini’s first season in charge – but the No5 believes West Ham performed far better than the final scoreline suggests.
“If we remember that game against Arsenal, it was a great performance from the team and we deserved to get at least a point from that game as we had so many chances to score goals,” he recalled.
“Arsenal is coming, so it’s a great chance to put in a good performance and get three points.”