Manchester City right-back Pablo Zabaleta has named Tottenham winger Gareth Bale as the Premier League's best player and "a force of nature".

The Wales international has been in imperious form this season, scoring 21 goals in all competitions, and Zabaleta believes no other player in the English top flight is currently performing better.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The best Premier League player? Gareth Bale, a force of nature."

Tottenham are currently five points behind Manchester City, who have a game in hand over the north London outfit, with just under two months of the season remaining.

City, meanwhile, find themselves 15 points behind rivals Manchester United, who look certain to wrap up their 20th league title.

Despite the reigning champion's disappointing form in the league, Zabaleta feels this will be an important season in the development of the club.

"We [City] must grow as a group and in mentality," the Argentinian added. "United have built a winning culture over the last 20 years, while City's project is at the beginning."

Zabaleta also described his relationship with manager Roberto Mancini as "great", adding: "You can talk with him not only about football, but also life problems."

And the 28-year-old, who has been one of City's most consistent performers this season, was not surprised to see Mario Balotelli depart for AC Milan in January.

"I think Balotelli's departure was inevitable. It had become a difficult situation," Zabaleta commented. "Mario is a great player, who must learn to better manage his life off the field. He should be more disciplined and quiet. Returning to Italy and staying near to his family is helping him."



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