Zabaleta: Bale best in league

Pablo Zabaleta is surrounded by superstars at Manchester City but has named Gareth Bale as the Premier League's best player, describing the Welsh winger as a "force of nature".

Last Updated: 26/03/13 at 18:45 Post Comment

Pablo Zabaleta: Believes Gareth Bale is the best player in the league

Pablo Zabaleta: Believes Gareth Bale is the best player in the league

Bale has illuminated the division so far this season, scoring 21 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions and helping Andre Villas-Boas's side climb to fourth, with a strong chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

In contrast, many of City's big names have struggled to replicate the form that saw the club crowned champions last season, and Zabaleta believes they are now playing catch-up to Bale.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The best Premier League player? Gareth Bale, a force of nature."

One man who would have liked to have laid claim to the status of league's best player during his time in England was former City star Mario Balotelli.

The mercurial Italian left Eastlands for AC Milan in a £19million deal during the January transfer window, ending a turbulent two-and-a-half-year stint in Manchester.

The 22-year-old has gone on to make an instant impact at the San Siro, scoring seven goals in six appearances and injecting fresh impetus into the Rossoneri's season.

Zabaleta witnessed all of the highs and lows of Balotelli's City career and believes it was the right decision for him to return home.

The Argentine full-back said: "I think Balotelli's departure was inevitable. It had become a difficult situation.

"Mario is a great player, who must learn to better manage his life off the field. He should be more disciplined and quiet. Returning to Italy and staying near to his family is helping him."

City sit 15 points adrift of arch rivals Manchester United in the Premier League and appear certain to relinquish the title they won so dramatically last May.

Zabaleta is disappointed with the way in which the season has developed, but insisted he has not lost any faith in manager Roberto Mancini.

"My relationship with Mancini is great," he added. "You can talk with him not only about football, but also life problems.

"We [City] must grow as a group and in mentality. United have built a winning culture over the last 20 years, while City's project is at the beginning."

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Y

ou can't blame De Gea for wanting to leave, he has enough to do in front of goal as it is as well as taking on the role of Man Utd's version of Derek Acorah in trying to contact and organise a defence that isn't there.

rodger's gusset
Van Gaal downbeat on De Gea

I

f you want to take six points off Arsenal, then that's a great strike force. Can't imagine either of them showing much for the rest of the season though...

foot in mouth
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ooks like Real get their man, most likely at their own valuation, yet again. Resistance is futile.

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