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Sunday 23 July 2017

Zabaleta to get City send-off

Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta will be handed a hero's send off by Manchester City tomorrow but there will be no fond farewell for Yaya Toure, who could yet be offered a new deal by the club.

Zabaleta's departure after nine years was confirmed on Saturday evening after the fan favourite decided not to seek a new deal at the end of the campaign, and the club will mark his service, following the final home game of the season against West Brom, with video montages, tributes and a post-match presentation. Toure enjoys a similar status among the club's supporters and would be afforded a similar show of respect should it be his last outing at the Etihad Stadium but that is not yet certain.

The 34-year-old Ivorian seemed certain to be on his way out when manager Pep Guardiola sidelined him at the start of the campaign but he has returned to a key role and could find he is asked to stay in Manchester for an eighth season.

Should that not transpire, senior figures at City have already considered the possibility of inviting him back next year to say goodbye to the fans.

Five other out-of-contract players - Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero and Tosin Adarabioyo - are also waiting to find out about their futures, though most are expected to join Zabaleta in leaving as Guardiola reshapes the squad.

Guardiola left no doubt about the esteem in which he holds 32-year-old Zabaleta, who pre-dates the club's 2008 takeover alongside Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart.

"Pablo is a real legend in what he has done in this club," he said.

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