independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Zabaleta pens new deal

Pablo Zabaleta is a key player for Manchester City

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has signed a new four-year contract at the Etihad Stadium, the Barclays Premier League club have announced.

The deal rewards Zabaleta for his outstanding form throughout the 2012-13 season, after which he was named as the club's player of the year.

The 28-year-old Argentina international has made 175 appearances for City since signing from Espanyol in a £6.5million deal in 2008.

Zabaleta said: "I have been here for five years and it feels like home. Signing a contract extension with the club makes me feel very happy.

"I feel great here, I like the Premiership, and I think Manchester City are one of the clubs looking for success in the future. It is a club that is very well organised and when you see that everything works well you want to be here."

Zabaleta joined City the day before the club was transformed by Sheikh Mansour's takeover.

He survived all the big-money comings and goings that followed and was a late substitute in the 2011 FA Cup final defeat of Stoke.

He went on to play an important part in City's 2012 title success although he shared right-back duties with Micah Richards throughout that campaign.

Last season he made the right-back position his own with Richards and Maicon absent injured for large spells.

His driving runs, good support play and solid defence stood out in a generally disappointing season for City, in which they finished runners-up in both major domestic competitions.

The only major blow from a personal point of view was his sending off in the shock FA Cup final loss to Wigan.

City have regrouped after last season's frustrations under new manager Manuel Pellegrini and Zabaleta is relishing the challenge ahead.

He said: "I think we have got a great squad, fantastic players and hopefully we can win something this year.

"I am sure the fans will respond very well as always. They are a big support for the team week in week out, and hopefully at the end of the season the fans and players can celebrate with a trophy."

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