West Ham United signed the two-time Premier League winner on a free transfer.
Time is a rare luxury in modern football, and new signings don’t get given too much of it before they are adjudged a hit or miss.
A couple of months on from the summer transfer window, HITC is grading the first impressions made by the new arrivals.
Right-back has been a problem position for the Hammers for the last couple of seasons and the veteran Argentine has quickly made the spot his own since joining from Manchester City.
Now 32, Zabaleta is not as dynamic as he once was, but there has been no decline in his commitment or professionalm while all around him at West Ham have allowed their standards to slip.
Under sacked manager Slaven Bilic, most Hammers players could be accused of showing a lack of effort and desire, but not Zabaleta. His average of 3.7 tackles per game is the second highest in the division.
Some other statistics don’t reflect as well on the two-time Premier League winner, though.
West Ham have the worst defensive record in the league, and he has already collected five yellow cards, one giving away a last-minute penalty which cost the Irons a point in a 3-2 defeat to Southampton.
But if every West Ham player had shown the application that Zabaleta had, Bilic may still be in a job.
As it is, David Moyes is the man tasked with lifting the Hammers out of relegation trouble, and he should be thanking the Croatian for leaving a warrior like Zabaleta behind to help lead this cause.