Pablo Zabaleta insists he never considered Manchester City exit
Pablo Zabaleta says he never considered leaving Manchester City despite repeated speculation over his future during the summer.
The Argentine endured a difficult season last year as City laboured to a fourth-place finish, with the right-back struggling for form and fitness after knee ligament and ankle problems.
Zabaleta, 31, started just 13 Premier League games as he fell behind Bacary Sagna in the pecking order under manager Manuel Pellegrini and was linked with Italian sides Roma, Inter Milan and Juventus over the summer.
However, the 31-year-old, who is now entering the final year of his contract, said he never considered quitting the Etihad and hopes to be back to his best after missing this summer's Copa America to have surgery on his ankle.
"I was doing rehab through the whole of May and June before coming back for preseason and then so many people were texting me because they were hearing a lot of stuff about me leaving Manchester City," he said.
"I was on holiday so I was texting everyone saying I'm a Manchester City player. People thought I was leaving and I know there's been a lot of speculation this summer but Manchester City was always my priority.
"I've been at this club for so long and Manchester has been a fantastic place for me to be, especially playing for this great football club.
"I have only one year left on my contract and so some teams were aware of my situation and probably were looking to make an offer and I did receive an offer from some clubs. But I didn't decide anything until coming back to preseason, meeting the new manager and having a conversation.
"All the players were in the same situation, not just me. There was a new manager coming in and everyone has to have that conversation to see what your situation is for the future. I've never been told anything but 'stay here for the next season' and I'm more than pleased with this."
Zabaleta has been with City since he left Spanish side Espanyol in an £8.5 million move in August 2008 shortly before Sheikh Mansour took over the club.
He has played through a period of success -- winning two Premier League titles and three domestic cup competitions -- but predicts that new City boss Pep Guardiola can take the club to a new level.
"I think for players when you have the opportunity to work with the best managers it's something really special," he added. "The experience will be great and I'm sure that in the next three years the club will make a step forward. I am absolutely sure of this because Pep Guardiola is one of the greatest managers and we are so lucky to have him at Manchester City.
"Apart from what happens on the pitch, off the pitch is very strict and he likes to have that discipline that as a team you need and I think it's really good. Today in football you need to be 100 percent fit.
"We know how physical the Premier League is and we always need to be in our best form. You cannot give anything away.
"The football is very competitive, there is a short time between each game so you need to have a good recovery and you must be fresh for the next game."
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.