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'He is one of the greatest' – Zabaleta tells Manchester City fans to back Bravo

13:16 SAST 2017/03/05
Bravo - Cropped
The Argentine full-back has called for the under-fire goalkeeper to be given greater support, while also discussing his own future at the Etihad

Claudio Bravo is still one of the football's great goalkeepers and Manchester City fans must get behind him, insists Pablo Zabaleta.

The 33-year-old – signed for £17million from Barcelona last August – has lost his first-choice status to Willy Caballero in the Premier League and Champions League after a string of high-profile mistakes.

Bravo did play in Wednesday's FA Cup fifth-round replay victory over Huddersfield Town and was greeted with ironic cheers from City fans at the Etihad Stadium whenever he made a routine save.

But Zabaleta wants supporters to give him more backing, despite Pep Guardiola's controversial decision to send Joe Hart on loan to Torino having signed the keeper.

'We know how good Bravo is'

"He is one of the greatest goalkeepers," the City defender told reporters ahead of Sunday's league match at Sunderland. "He won things with Barcelona and he has won the Copa America with Chile.

"But moving from La Liga to here is sometimes not easy. We need patience. We need to give confidence to him.

"We all need to support Claudio – the players and the fans. He is one of us and I just wish the Manchester City fans would give massive support to him.

Pep hopes for more Bravo masterpieces

"We need to help the new players and we need to understand that, when players go to another league, it is hard. It can be very tough and you need time to adapt.

"We also know that goalkeeper is not an easy position. You need confidence and Claudio is not a regular starter at the moment because Willy has been playing most of the games.

"So it is not easy, but we need to support him. We know he is a great goalkeeper, and his distribution with his feet has been fantastic.

"The players and manager are 100 per cent sure what Claudio is as a goalkeeper and that is the most important thing."

Meanwhile, Zabaleta says he is still pondering his own City future with his contract coming to an end after this season.

"I know my contract expires at the end of the season," he said. "I am 32, not getting any younger, so I need to make sure my decision is the correct one.

Hart, Bravo & Caballero all out this summer?

"I want to be honest with the club, myself and everyone. It I decide to stay, I will stay. If I will decide that it is time to move on, I will move on. Until then, I don't want to talk too much about it because I am more focussed on the season and trying to win something.

"I am giving everything for the team as I have done for the last eight seasons."