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Maffeo: Zabaleta like a father to me

Spanish full-back Pablo Maffeo has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the youth system at City since signing from Espanyol in 2013.

The 18-year old is yet to make his competitive debut but has been named on the bench four times in the early weeks of the 2015/16 season – a sign of just how well regarded he is by Manuel Pellegrini and the coaching staff.

Now a regular participant in first-team training at City Football Academy, Maffeo cites a couple of the Blues’ Spanish speakers as key in helping him to acclimatize after a difficult first year at the club, especially his namesake and his fellow right-back.

“The season is going well, I am enjoying it here and I think I’m playing well but I can still improve in all areas,” he told mcfc.co.uk.

“I’m spending a lot of time with the first-team because there have been a lot of injuries in the full-back positions but I’m also playing matches with the EDS, so I’m happy to be training and getting experience with the seniors. It's like a dream!

“Everyone there is nice with you and treats you well to make you feel comfortable. Obviously I have more connection with the Spanish players, Jesus Navas especially, we speak a lot of the time – he’s crazy, it’s good!

Zabeleta is like my father in there – he’s always laughing with us. When you need advice, he’s a great person to have around.”

A staple in Patrick Vieira’s UEFA Youth League side over the past three seasons and a U21 International Cup winner, Pablo hopes to end this season with more silverware at youth level.

It’s been a tough start to life in the U21 Premier League with City winning just one of their opening five games.

However, Maffeo believes that sticking to the club’s identity and playing style is of paramount importance over results at this stage of player development.

“I think it’s a new team, all of the lads are new and young from the u18s but we’re playing well,” he reflected.

“We miss chances and then the other team manage to score from just a few chances.

“I think we need to score more goals but, above all, we’re playing well and to a system - at this level that’s the most important thing.

“Patrick is a top manager, a great person – he’s laughing with you but at the same time he wants more and more from you – he’s a great inspiration for us all.”

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You can read the full interview with Pablo by picking up a copy of the City v Bournemouth matchday programme on Saturday.

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