The Argentine played for Pellegrini for a short period in 2002 at San Lorenzo, and believes the outgoing Malaga boss will bring an attractive brand of attacking football to the Etihad Stadium.
With City yet to progress from the group stage of the Champions League, Zabaleta believes the 59-year-old has the ability to improve the club's standing on the European stage.
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"He did well when we were at San Lorenzo. He won the South American Cup. After he left San Lorenzo, he went to River Plate.
"He was always keen on youth development and also won important things there. That makes him a good manager.
"When he went to Villarreal, he took a club who had been in the third division to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
"He’s done well at Real Madrid, Villarreal and Malaga. Now we will see how he will do at Manchester City - if he comes."
The City fans have often complained about the defensive style of former manager Roberto Mancini's tactics, and Zabaleta expects Pellegrini to bring a far more adventurous approach.
He continued: "I think we will be more attacking. His football is great. He likes to play attractive football. Also his record in Europe is great – and that’s something we haven’t done so well in recent seasons.
"You saw with Malaga that, whenever they played, they played to win. That’s something which is very important for a top team: Whenever you go to play, you should play to win."