Soon-to-be free agent Zabaleta admits he misses the Manchester rain

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The Argentine defender has fully embraced life at the Etihad Stadium, but is likely to be heading elsewhere in the summer as his contract runs down

Pablo Zabaleta admits to missing “all the rain in Manchester” when outside of England, but he may have to make peace with the fact that his future lies elsewhere.

The Argentine defender has been part of the Manchester City squad since the summer of 2008, becoming something of a cult hero at the Etihad Stadium over the course of more than 300 club appearances.

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He has become so attached to life in the Premier League that he feels he would struggle to operate at the same level in warmer climes.

Zabaleta told FourFourTwo: “This place has definitely changed me. When I go on holiday to Spain for a month in the summer with the family, or somewhere with more sunshine, I find that I miss all the rain in Manchester. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Pablo Zabaleta Manchester City 02102016

“I’ve been here for many years. In terms of playing football in another country, like Spain, and training in a hot climate – I think I’d find that hard. I love playing games in the rainy weather when the ball runs fast on the pitch.”

The 32-year-old is, however, approaching the end of his current contract, with no fresh terms tabled as yet.

If he is to drop into the free agent pool over the summer, then there is likely to be no shortage of takers for a man who has proved that South American imports can embrace the cut and thurst of the Premier League.

PABLO ZABALETA | Manchester City

“My commitment and loyalty has been there on and off the pitch from day one – that’s why I think I have lasted,” added Zabaleta.

“At the beginning everything is new and you have to adapt to a new style of football and life off the pitch, which isn’t easy. Sometimes you struggle a bit, but I’m happy to still be here.

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“The Premier League was always my dream. It’s amazing. I thought: 'Let's go to England' – Manchester City was a different club to what it is today but it’s still the same in many ways. It’s been a big challenge every year to prove that I’m good enough to be here as big money and big players come to the club.”

During his eight seasons with City to date, Zabaleta has claimed two Premier League titles, two League Cup successes, one FA Cup triumph and a Community Shield.

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