Álvaro Arbeloa Coca ([ˈalβaɾo arβeˈloa ˈkoka]; born 17 January 1983) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for English club West Ham United. He is predominantly a right back, although he can also play on the left side.
He started his career with Real Madrid, playing mostly with the reserves. In 2006 he moved to Deportivo, joining Liverpool after half a season and going on to appear in 98 official games over the course of three Premier League seasons. In 2009, he returned to Real Madrid for a fee of £5 million, spending seven years there and winning eight major titles, including the 2011–12 edition of La Liga and two Champions League.
Arbeloa gained 56 caps for Spain, representing the country at the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 and winning all tournaments.
Arbeloa was born in Salamanca, Region of León, relocating with his family to Zaragoza at the age of four. He started playing football at local Real Zaragoza, joining Real Madrid's youth system at the age of 18.
Arbeloa spent three full seasons with Real Madrid Castilla, the reserve team, two of those spent in Segunda División B. In 2004–05, he contributed with 32 games and one goal – playoffs included – as the team returned to Segunda División after a 14-year absence; on 16 October 2004, he made his La Liga debut with the main squad, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 1–1 away draw against Real Betis.
On 24 July 2006, Arbeloa signed for Deportivo de La Coruña, with Real Madrid being entitled to 50% of any transfer occurring in the following three years. He said of his departure: "This is a strange situation for me; I have been playing for Real Madrid for five years, since I was 16", adding "Real always has the best players. There were eight defenders in the squad, something had to give in."
During his six-month spell with the team from Galicia, Arbeloa featured in 21 official games, 18 of his league appearances being complete.
On 31 January 2007, Arbeloa signed for English club Liverpool, managed by countryman Rafael Benítez. He made his Premier League debut on 10 February, coming as a substitute for Jermaine Pennant against Newcastle United.
Arbeloa made his first start for the Reds against FC Barcelona, in the 2006–07 edition of the UEFA Champions League. He featured as a left-back at the Camp Nou, as his stronger right foot could stop Lionel Messi who had a tendency to cut his runs towards the center of the field – Liverpool won it 2–1 and eventually 2–2 on aggregate, with the player also playing the full 90 minutes at Anfield.
Arbeloa scored his first goal for Liverpool against Reading, on 7 April 2007. He replaced Steve Finnan in the last minutes of the Champions League final, a 1–2 loss to A.C. Milan.
Arbeloa's squad number changed from 2 to 17 for the 2007–08 season, due to personal preference. He cemented a first-team place in that campaign, playing 41 matches all competitions comprised as Liverpool finished in fourth position.
On 17 May 2009, in a match against West Bromwich Albion, Arbeloa was involved in an on-field clash with Liverpool teammate Jamie Carragher – the two had to be separated by Daniel Agger, Xabi Alonso, Emiliano Insúa and Pepe Reina. Carragher later explained that he clashed with Arbeloa as a moment of poor defending from the latter threatened the clean sheet, further explaining "we want to keep a clean sheet and we want Pepe to have a chance of the Golden Glove for the fourth season running"; Benítez refused to comment about the incident.
On 29 July 2009, it was announced that Real Madrid and Liverpool had reached an agreement on the transfer of Arbeloa, for a fee of £5 million and a five-year contract.
After the departure of Míchel Salgado and Miguel Torres, Arbeloa was handed the number 2 jersey. He played the vast majority of his first season in his second stint as a left-back, netting his first goal on 13 February 2010 in a 3–0 away win against Xerez CD. His second came in El Derbi madrileño on 28 March, scoring with his right foot past David de Gea in the 3–2 win over Atlético Madrid; under new manager José Mourinho, he celebrated his 10th appearance in the Champions League with his first goal in the competition, netting from outside the penalty area in a 4–0 group stage success at AFC Ajax.
In the 2011–12 campaign, due to Ricardo Carvalho's lengthy injury, Sergio Ramos was relocated to centre-back, and Arbeloa begun appearing almost exclusively on the right side of the back four. On 1 August 2012, he extended his link to the club until June 2016.
Subsequently, Arbeloa became a fringe player. In 2015–16 he appeared in just nine matches across all competitions, two of those being in the Champions League which was won for the second time in three years; on 8 May 2016, he confirmed he would leave on 30 June.
On 31 August 2016, Arbeloa returned to the Premier League for the first time in seven years, signing for West Ham United for one season. He made his debut on 21 September, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–0 home win over Accrington Stanley for the EFL Cup.
On 1 February 2008, Arbeloa was called up to the Spanish national team for the first time, for a friendly with France in Málaga, but he was forced to pull out because of injury. He made his debut on 26 March against Italy, and was picked for UEFA Euro 2008's final stages, appearing in the first round match against Greece (2–1 win) as the nation emerged victorious.
Arbeloa's versatility saw him being called up for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, again as Ramos understudy. His contribution in the latter tournament, which also ended in victory, consisted of 14 minutes in the group stage against Honduras.
Vicente del Bosque selected Arbeloa for the following tournament, Euro 2012: due to Carles Puyol's absence, however, he was now part of the starting XI, alongside Ramos, Gerard Piqué and Jordi Alba, with Spain only conceding once in six contests and winning the tournament.As of 3 December 2016
1 Includes UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.Real Madrid
La Liga: 2011–12
Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14; Runner-up 2012–13
Supercopa de España: 2012; Runner-up 2011, 2014
UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16
FIFA Club World Cup: 2014
UEFA Super Cup: 2014
FIFA World Cup: 2010
UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
FIFA Confederations Cup: Runner-up 2013; Third-place 2009