A glorious right-back and a selfless team player. His altruistic attitude actually stands in stark contrast to many of his Manchester City teammates, cough, Samir Nasri, cough.
And it's only this season that the Argentinian has truly been getting the praise he deserves. In a team assembled without regard for frugal prudence, Zabaleta has proved to be a rare bargain.
A barrelling full-back in attack, and a squat square of man in defence, Zabaleta has been Manchester City's Mr Consistent.
He leads the league among defenders for tackles per game (3.9). And Roberto Mancini even conceded he's playing "very, very well" this season. High praise indeed when you consider the Italian's barbed criticism of just about everyone else this term.