Wednesday 13 December 2017

Zabaleta hoping Milner extends stay

Pablo Zabaleta, left, hopes James Milner stays at Manchester City
Pablo Zabaleta, left, hopes James Milner stays at Manchester City

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta hopes midfielder James Milner remains a team-mate for "many years".

England international Milner underlined his value for City with a superb injury-time free-kick equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw against battling Hull on Saturday.

The goal came amid continuing uncertainty over Milner's future at the Etihad Stadium. The 29-year-old is out of contract in the summer and despite talks that have been ongoing for some time, a new deal remains unsigned.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini has expressed hope Milner, a £26million signing from Aston Villa in 2010, will stay having shone centrally, out wide and even up front this season.

Milner has reportedly had reservations because of uncertainty whether he will command a regular starting spot but Zabaleta is keen for him to sign.

The Argentina right-back said: "We know how important James is for this team, for this club. His commitment and his passion have always been fantastic for this club and this team.

"He is a player who can play in different positions. He is a great professional, a fantastic lad. Hopefully he can sign a new deal and stay with us for many years."

Despite Milner's late heroics, the result against Hull was still a frustrating one as it allowed Chelsea to extend their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to seven points.

Hull had gone into the game in the bottom three - and after losing their previous three matches - but they looked the more confident side and led after David Meyler's 35th-minute strike.

Zabaleta said: "It's disappointing because that was a game we were always supposed to win, especially because we knew before the game that it was another chance to get three points and try to reduce the gap to leaders Chelsea.

"But it was another disappointing afternoon where we dropped another two points. It's a hard moment, because we expect our team to play better, not just for 45 minutes like we did in the second half.

"We were a little bit flat at the beginning of the game, and when you concede a goal you have to play against teams that choose to defend with all of their players behind the ball - it's hard to find space.

"But there is still a long way to go, a point is a point, and it was a great free-kick by James that saved a point."

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport