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Doubts are starting to creep in about West Ham United’s summer acquisition Fabian Balbuena.

When West Ham signed Fabian Balbuena he was unknown to most, except a certain South American football expert.

Balbuena was one of 10 new signings made by Manuel Pellegrini over the summer.

He joined the Hammers from Brazilian side Corinthians in a deal thought to be worth £6.5 million.

It had Hammers fans scrambling for the obligatory YouTube clips.

And many liked what they saw.

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Topsy turvy start to life for Balbuena

A tall, strong centre back who looks a threat at set pieces, what’s not to like?

After initially struggling to adapt the Paraguayan looked to have turned things around with some solid performances.

There were signs that he was forging a really strong partnership with fellow summer signing Issa Diop.

But his form, like West Ham’s, has dipped alarmingly.

 

Doubts are starting to grow over his ability to make a success of it in the Premier League.

So was self-styled South American football expert Tim Vickery right all along?

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‘Centre back the toughest position to adjust’

Vickery, a freelance English football journalist who has lived in Brazil since 1994, is the South American football correspondent for outlets such as BBC Sport, ESPN and talkSPORT.

And speaking on talkSPORT in the summer he made a prediction about Balbuena which looks accurate based on his performances thus far.

“He’s (Balbuena) a no-nonsense, big, physical defender but I’ve come to the decision over the years that centre-back is the hardest position to adjust to coming straight from South American football to the Premier League,” Vickery told talkSPORT.

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Worries over ‘ponderous’ Paraguayan

“Some even better defenders than Balbuena have struggled with it a bit, I’m thinking specifically of (Gabriel) Paletta who came into Liverpool and really didn’t do well at all but ended up in Italy and doing so well that he played for Italy.

“Balbuena has been with Corinthians who are a very, very organised team… I’m a little bit worried for him taken out of that context, I’m a little bit worried that he might be a bit too ponderous in the Premier League.

“He’s not the quickest… he may just get found out a bit.”

It would be folly to write Balbuena off with just a third of the season gone.

But Vickery’s insight looks worryingly accurate.

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