Pablo Zabaleta believes Manuel Pellegrini could be a great manager for Manchester City.
The City defender has long known of Pellegrini’s reputation having been a junior at Argentinian club San Lorenzo when the Chilean was first-team boss.
Pellegrini is widely expected to be named as replacement for the sacked Roberto Mancini at the Etihad Stadium after it was confirmed he is to leave Malaga at the end of the Spanish season.
Zabaleta, 28, speaking in New York on City’s post-season tour, said: “I have never worked under Pellegrini before, when he was at San Lorenzo I was in the second team.
“I don’t know him as a person but he did well at Real Madrid, Villarreal and Malaga.
“We will see if Pellegrini signs for Manchester City.
“His way to play football is great. Somebody told me he is a great manager so we will wait to see what happens.
“Hopefully if he comes to City he can just carry on with his football.”
Pellegrini potentially moved a step closer to City when Malaga announced he would leave La Rosaleda after their final two Primera Division games.
The 59-year-old did have two years remaining on his contract but he and the club both cited “sporting reasons” for his departure.
Pellegrini added: “Everyone has the right and obligation to follow their chosen path, and Malaga must do the same.
“The club requires a realistic project next season.
“Malaga had a past without Manuel Pellegrini, and will also have a future without Manuel Pellegrini.”
Pellegrini oversaw unprecedented success at Villarreal by guiding them to a Champions League semi-final in 2006 and second place in La Liga in 2008.
He then had a single season in charge at Real Madrid before taking over at Malaga, whom he steered to the last eight of the Champions League this year.
Pellegrini’s European record would be an attraction to City, who conspicuously failed to achieve on that stage under Mancini.
Zabaleta believes he would also bring a positive style of play to the club.
He said: “He likes to play attractive football.
“What I saw with Malaga, whenever they played they played to win.
“This is something important for a top team. Wherever you go to play, you play to win.”
Zabaleta also knows there will be an onus on the players to respond to the new man.
He said: “Whoever is the manager, players need to work hard.
“When a new manager comes in you need to show you want to keep your place in the team and I am sure we will do in the pre-season.”
:: Pablo Zabaleta was speaking at Lexington Academy in East Harlem, which boasts New York city’s only rooftop soccer field and was donated by Manchester City Football Club in 2010.