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Zabaleta desperate to start season with a win

Pablo Zabaleta says it is crucial City hit the ground running against Sunderland.

The Argentina full-back has returned to full fitness following ankle surgery and is looking forward to his ninth season in sky blue.

Though the bookies will have City down as strong favourites to win at the Etihad, Zabaleta says the Black Cats will be trying to impress their own new manager.

“We are 100% ready for the first game,” said Zabaleta. “It is really important for us to start in the right way. We know that Sunderland are a very competitive team and there’s been massive change for them during the summer because Sam Allardyce has gone.

“Now they have David Moyes and we know that he has a reputation for making teams hard to beat and competitive. It’s going to be tough. We need to start well and try to get three points. We then have a Champions League game after three days.

“We need to win, playing the way the manager wants us to play.”

Though media speculation has linked Zaba with a move away from City all summer, the crowd favourite confirmed he has no intentions of leaving the Club he has played more than 300 games for.

“It’s been quite a busy summer for me,” he said. “I had surgery on my ankle and decided to turn down the Copa America because last season I struggled with injuries and my ankle was not right so I decided to have surgery to remove the physical issues that created problems for me last season.

“I was doing rehab through the whole of May and June before coming back for pre-season and then so many people were texting me because they were hearing a lot of stuff about me leaving Manchester City.

“I was on holiday so I was texting everyone saying I’m a Manchester City player. People thought I was leaving and I know there’s been a lot of speculation this summer but Manchester City was always my priority.

“I’ve been at this club for so long and Manchester has been a fantastic place for me to be, especially playing for this great football club.

“I have only one year left on my contract and so some teams were aware of my situation and probably were looking to make an offer - I did receive a few offers from some clubs, but I didn’t decide anything until coming back to pre-season, meeting the new manager and having a conversation.

“All the players were in the same situation, not just me. There was a new manager coming in and everyone has to have that conversation to see what your situation is for the future. I’ve never been told anything but ‘stay here for the next season’ and I’m more than pleased with this.”


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