Manchester City have confirmed Pablo Zabaleta, their popular Argentine defender, will leave the club when his contract expires in the summer.
A £7million Mark Hughes signing in the summer of 2008, the 32-year-old has been an important part of the Blues’ success in recent years. Zabaleta will leave the Etihad Stadium with two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and two League Cups, and a personal record of making well over 300 appearances in all competitions for the club since his arrival from Espanyol.
However, the fullback has started just 22 times this season as Pep Guardiola implements his own ideas in the blue half of Manchester. And with his contract set to expire at the end of the current campaign, the Argentina international – who has 58 caps for his country after winning his debut back in 2005 – will leave the club, although West Ham United may offer to extend his stay in England.
City revealed the news of his departure on their official website, which read: “Pablo is out of contract in the summer and has informed the club he will move to pastures new. He leaves behind many happy memories…Zaba joined City the day before it was announced Sheikh Mansour was the club’s new owner. Only Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany have been with the Blues longer.”
Zabaleta will be the first of potentially several exits from City in the coming weeks. Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero and Yaya Toure are among the other players out of contract in the summer, and whilst there has been reports that the latter might be offered fresh terms, it would appear the others are unlikely to remain on the payroll beyond their existing deals.
Elsewhere, Joe Hart will more than likely leave on a permanent deal having spent the season on loan in Italy at Torino, with Crystal Palace the latest Premier League side said to be interested in the goalkeeper. Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Jason Denayer have also spent time on loan and have uncertain futures, and Guardiola could listen to offers for Kelechi Iheanacho.