Zabaleta: Guardiola stopped me joining Roma

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The West Ham right-back revealed his ambition to play in Italy with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Former Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta says Pep Guardiola pulled the plug on a potential switch to Roma upon his arrival at the club.

Guardiola took over at City in the summer of 2016 and informed Zabaleta that he would not be sold as he was an essential part of his plans for the season.

The Argentine went on to make 32 appearances in his final season at City, scoring twice before eventually joining West Ham on a free transfer at the end of the campaign.

The 33-year-old is now in the final year of his deal at the London club and has expressed his desire to experience Serie A football.

“I came close to joining Roma in the past," he told Sky Sports Italy, as reported by Calciomercato.

"They offered me a three-year contract and I thought that could be a positive experience for me.

"However, Guardiola took over at Manchester City and he told me that he needed me to stay so, in the end, I didn’t join Roma. 

“It’s a decision I took with my heart even though I’ve always thought that I’d like to play in Italy one day."

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If he does choose to move to Italy, he will follow a well-trodden path of full-backs finding success in their twilight years in Serie A, with the likes of Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra joining Roma and Juventus from Chelsea and Manchester United, respectively, in the latter stages of their careers.

However, Zabaleta is enjoying something of a renaissance under his compatriot and former manager Manuel Pellegrini, keeping summer signing Ryan Fredricks out of the side after a difficult first campaign with the Hammers.

West Ham travel to face Brighton on Friday evening, with Zabaleta expected to start following his impressive displays in the wins over Manchester United and Everton and the draw against Chelsea.