West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta says he would not rule out a move to the Middle East when his current contract runs out. The Hammers defender, who took the captain’s armband for the win over Burnley on Saturday, sees his present deal run out at the end of the campaign and is already planning ahead.
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It is not out of the question that the 33-year-old will be offered a new deal at he club after finding his best form under new boss Manuel Pellegrini, but if that does not happen he has his eye on either a move to Italy or the Middle East.
“My heart tells me I would like to play forever but I will be 34 in January and I need to listen to my body at that time,” he told Arab News. “At the end I will know what I want to do and where to go but I would like one or two more years to carry on playing.
At 34 I think it might be the right time to try something different, have a new experience. “If I carry on playing in Europe, Italy is one of those leagues I haven’t played but I have always been thinking about the Middle East. I first went to the UAE for the Under-20 World Cup in 2003 and have seen how much the region has changed.
“I’ve been to Saudi Arabia and Qatar with the national team and you see the fantastic progress, football standards improving and passion of fans. “The league is not as long as in Europe but there’s still the chance to play for trophies, to play big games competitively like in the Asian Champions League.
I can’t see myself going to China; the Middle East and America are more attractive.”