If Manchester City win the Premier League title on Sunday, then most of the praise would go to the likes of Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko. Their importance to Manuel Pellegrini’s side cannot be undermined, but there is one Argentine who deserves to be acknowledged as their hero. And it’s not Sergio Aguero.
Attacking and attractive football has been at the forefront of Pellegrini’s playing style, and the likes of Nasri, Dzeko and Toure have been the principal beneficiaries. Indeed, it was the Ivory Coast international’s rampaging run, as has often been the case this season, which saw City reach 100 Premier League goals in their 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa on Wednesday.
However, it was the man who set up the first two goals in that vital win - Pablo Zabaleta - who is the cream of the crop.
Marauding down the right wing, the gritty and tenacious Argentina international is a joy to watch. Zabaleta has become a star at Manchester City and in the Premier League. It’s often said that modern day full-backs are better offensively than they are defensively, but the 29-year-old is the exception to the rule.
Sunday’s game against West Ham United - the final fixture of City’s Premier League campaign - will see the former Espanyol star play his 48th game of the season. He has missed just three league matches, thus proving how integral he is to the club’s success.
Seven assists, one goal, 88 tackles won, 84 clearances made. The numbers do not tell the whole story for the hugely popular Zabaleta.
Despite a number of their core players – Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Aguero – having missed a combined total of 35 games this season, City are on the verge of Premier League glory. And it is because of Zabaleta, who has been the undisputed hero for the Citizens.
Has Pablo Zabaleta been Manchester City’s best player this season?