Zabaleta: City focused on CL, not future under Guardiola

Date published: Wednesday 24th February 2016 2:07

Pablo Zabaleta: Could move on

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta claims the future is not on players’ minds as they prepare to resume their Champions League challenge.

A number of City’s squad are unsure how they will fit into new manager Pep Guardiola’s plans after the Spaniard takes charge in the summer.

But Zabaleta insists any possible squad revamp is not an issue to think about now and is concentrating solely on achieving success in the remainder of the season.

The Argentinian was speaking at a press conference ahead of the first leg of City’s Champions League last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev in the Ukrainian capital.

Zabaleta said: “It’s a competition in which we’ve reached the last 16 for the last two years and now is a chance to make a step forward.

“We know this club is making a lot of effort to bring in top players but we know we are 100 per cent focused on what is a big chance for us to continue in the tournament. We need to perform well and see if we can get a result.”

City go into the game on the back of a raft of negative publicity over their selection for Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round defeat at Chelsea.

Current boss Manuel Pellegrini fielded six teenagers, including five making their full debuts, as he prioritised the game in Kiev – and lost 5-1.

Zabaleta said: “It’s a different competition. I know we are coming in from a big defeat but now we are 100 per cent focused for the game on Wednesday. It’s a different game.”

Zabaleta was a member of the City side beaten on their last visit to Kiev, in the Europa League, five years ago.

The 31-year-old said: “Last time we played here in 2011 it is not a good memory. We lost the game but it’s a long time ago.

“When you come to this country you play against good teams and you have to be well prepared to compete well. It’s going to be a tough game, they have very good players. We expect a very hard game.”

Zabaleta laughed when he was asked by a Ukrainian journalist why he looked “so upset”.

“I’m not upset! I am happy to be in Kiev,” he said.

Defender Eliaquim Mangala is back in contention for City after 10 games out with a hamstring injury.

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