Pablo Zabaleta rewarded for last season's good form with new four-year contract at Manchester City

Defender was named City's Player of the Year at the end of the last campaign and says he is 'very happy' that he will be staying at the Etihad

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The Independent Football

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaeta has signed a new four-year-deal ahead of the club’s opening Premier League fixture against Newcastle later tonight.

The contract rewards the Argentine for his fantastic form during last season that saw him named the club’s 2012/13 Player of the Year.

The 28-year-old has made 175 appearances for City since his arrival in 2008 when he joined from Espanyol for £6.5m, and his performances have seen him keep English right-back Micah Richards out of the side despite the 25-year-old being an academy graduate favourite.

"I have been here for five years and it feels like home,” said Zabaleta.

"Signing a contract extension with the club makes me feel very happy.

"I feel great here, I like the Premiership, and I think Manchester City are one of the clubs looking for success in the future.

"It is a club that is very well organised and when you see that everything works well you want to be here."

Zabaleta was City’s last signing before they transformed from Premier League also-rans to title contenders, signing the day before Sheik Mansour took control of the club.

He was a late substitute appearance in the 2011 FA Cup final victory over Stoke, and having shared the right-back position with Richards the following season, he became a regular starter due to a combination of impressive performances and injuries to Richards and Maicon.

Zabaleta is known for his driving runs, solid defence and his reliable support play, and he emerged as a rather lonely shining light in a disappointing season that saw the end of Roberto Mancini’s reign at the Etihad despite finishing second in the league and reaching the FA Cup final, where Zabaleta was sent-off who picking up two yellow cards.

City appear to have regrouped from the disappointing end to last season, and along with his new signings, manager Manuel Pellegrini is looking forward to getting the new campaign underway when the Magpies travel south to face his side.

"I think we have got a great squad, fantastic players and hopefully we can win something this year,” admitted Pellegrini.

"I am sure the fans will respond very well as always. They are a big support for the team week in week out, and hopefully at the end of the season the fans and players can celebrate with a trophy."