West Ham have announced on their official website that Zabaleta will leave the club at the end of the month.
The former Manchester City defender is out of contract at the Hammers on June 30, and the right-back will not extended his current deal.
Rice, who can operate as a central defender or as a defensive midfielder, has sent a heartfelt message to the 35-year-old Argentine right-back on Twitter.
@pablo_zabaleta a honour to get to play with you, train with you & learn from from you over the past 3 years. Been a special character for our team & you will be missed massively. Thank you for everything that you done for me personally, it will never be forgotten. Top man❤️😥 pic.twitter.com/wtqccU1q4O
— Declan Rice (@_DeclanRice) June 25, 2020
Successful West Ham United spell
Zabaleta joined West Ham in the summer of 2017 on a free transfer after leaving Premier League rivals City.
As stated on the Hammers’ official website, the veteran right-back made a total of 80 appearances for the club, scoring one goal in the process.
The defender was hugely popular among the players and the fans alike, as he brought with him a winning mentality, and worked hard and showed the utmost professionalism.
Meanwhile, West Ham are in real danger of getting relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.
David Moyes’s side are currently level on points with third-from-bottom Bournemouth and second-placed Aston Villa in 17th spot in the Premier League table.