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Media react to Zabaleta announcement

LEGEND: Pablo Zabaleta will leave City at the end of the season

LEGEND: Pablo Zabaleta will leave City at the end of the season

The media is awash with reaction to Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Leicester on Saturday – and the news Pablo Zabaleta will leave the Club at the end of the season.

The Argentine defender has called time on his City career in a move that has saddened supporters and Sam Lee, writing for Goal, says he deserves to be remember as a legend…and not just by City fans.

Lee writes: “Zabaleta, along with Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart, helped establish a core of committed and talented players that would make City an attractive prospect to some of the world's best, most ambitious players.

“Their passionate, fully committed displays quickly won over a fan base more appreciative of honest efforts than most, but they also had the ability to hint at the type of success that was, nearly a decade ago, still unthought of at the Etihad Stadium, and certainly would've been at Maine Road.

“To put things in perspective, Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United were champions of Europe when Zabaleta signed for City, and within five years he was a major part of the team that toppled them.

“His off-the-pitch demeanour certainly helped make him a firm favourite, too. City supporters would later become used to their Argentine heroes keeping themselves to themselves and, shall we say, not lending too much importance to learning the local language.

“Zabaleta, though, threw himself into Manchester life, eschewing the posh surroundings of Alderley Edge or Wilmslow in favour of Didsbury, a south Manchester suburb. He mixed with the locals so much that his perfect English has more than a Manc twang about it.

“He is one of those footballers who gets it. As he once humbly said, "I try to do my best for the team, the club and the fans." Those were not empty words; he meant it, and City fans knew that.

“He became as close to 'one of their own' as it is possible for an Argentine to be. But he should be thought of as 'one of our own' for fans of English football in general.

“Talented foreign footballers who give their best years to our game are, understandably, granted special status. Dennis Bergkamp, Eric Cantona, Patrick Vieira, Gianfranco Zola and Thierry Henry are all in the hall of fame, and not just because of their quality and medal hauls.

“They have become part of the story of the game in this country and Zabaleta, now his exit has been confirmed, should be the first of many City players to join that club.”

I think there’s something in my eye…

Meanwhile, City’s win over Leicester, which saw them take a step closer to Champions League qualification with two games of the season remaining, has also been pored over.

Nick Miller at ESPN singled out Gabriel Jesus for praise, particularly the youngster’s confidence in taking the penalty when a certain Yaya Toure was on the field.

“If there's a dictionary definition of "embarrassment of riches," then a picture of a fit Sergio Aguero sitting on the Manchester City bench should probably feature in it," Miller writes. "There might be some areas of Guardiola's squad that are deficient, but this isn't one of them.

“After a couple of games in which Guardiola tried to pair Aguero with Gabriel Jesus, for the second fixture running, he chose to start the Brazilian ahead of his more senior colleague. Guardiola clearly favours the movement and pace that Gabriel provides, despite Aguero's status as a City legend already.

“If nothing else, you have to admire Gabriel's chutzpah. Not too many 20-year-olds would stride up to Toure on his birthday and remove the ball from his hands before converting a penalty. He did just that and slotted home with the appropriate confidence.”

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And the Mail’s Daniel Matthews has described the Etihad as the “graveyard of champions”, pointing out that City have an immaculate recent home record against defending title winners.

“Manchester City's 2-1 win over Leicester cemented their place in the top four and kept them on course to qualify for next season's Champions League," he writes

The victory at the Etihad also means City have now won their last five home matches against the defending Premier League champions.

“Craig Shakespeare's side joined Chelsea and Manchester United in coming up short at City in recent seasons.

There was one crumb of comfort for Leicester, however. Each of the last two defending champions were beaten by a three-goal margin (4-1 vs Manchester United in September 2013 and 3-0 vs Chelsea in August 2015).”

And, finally, some transfer news. The Daily Star are convinced City will make a move for Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford this summer, with Pep Guardiola set to go head-to-head with Everton to land the England under-21 international.

Everton are willing to pay £10million but City are more likely to meet Sunderland’s valuation, which is in more than double that fee," they write

“Ideally Moyes would like to keep Pickford but the Sunderland manager’s own future remains in doubt following relegation.”

That’s all for today, Blues. Join us tomorrow for media musings here on ManCity.com! 

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