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Carlos already right at home

Zabaleta and Tevez at Open House

Zabaleta and Tevez at Open House

Pablo Zabaleta says star summer signing Carlos Tevez has been an instant hit in the dressing-room as well as in the City of Manchester Stadium stands.

Argentina striker Tevez received a huge ovation from Blues fans when he shook off his nagging heel injury to make a belated debut against Celtic on Saturday following his high-profile move across town.

And Zaby reveals that the City staff and players have already been charmed by his genial fellow countryman and impressed by the ultra-professional approach he maintains off the pitch as well as on it.

Tevez endured a wasted trip to South Africa, where a slip in the shower prolonged his absence from group training with his new team-mates when his natural instinct was to hurl himself into pre-season action.

Zabaleta said: "Carlos is a normal person but a big character to have around. Mark Hughes and his staff have said to me what a fantastic player, what a good professional he is. Everybody here is very happy with him.

"He has a big desire to play, so it's been frustrating for Carlos, the problem with his foot. He wasn't able to train with us, but this week he can train well, and maybe he can play in the first game. Even with his problem, he was training in the gym every day.

"I don't need to help him with his English! We sit with the other players and speak in English. Spanish would be much easier for us of course, but it's out of respect for the others. It must be funny listening to us."

Zabaleta, who skippered Tevez in Argentina's Under-20 world title triumph of 2005, was instrumental in persuading the dynamic little Corinthians striker to switch his allegiance to sky blue.

Pablo added: "Carlos and I are good pals - I've known him a long time, from when we were in the Under-17s and the Under-20 team for Argentina. As we all know, he is a very good player, and we wanted his quality.

"Carlos spoke to me before he came here. He asked me to talk about the club and of course I told him how big Manchester City is, and that it is a good club to be at. We hope to finish in the top six.

"City is very different now, and Carlos is good for everybody. Players want to come here. We have bought Gareth Barry and the others - they come because they believe in the project, and that's important.

"The new signings have changed everything. Last season was difficult - now a lot of players have gone, and it is a new team. We've got some good players for this season, the pressure is going to be different."

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