Pablo Zabaleta pleads with James Milner to stay

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Players like James Milner are often said to be appreciated far more by their fellow professionals than by us fans, but the Manchester City midfielder is finally showing everyone why his teammates are so fond of him.

And his opinion-altering performances this season have prompted teammate Pablo Zabaleta to urge the City midfielder to commit his long-term future to the club.

The fact so much has been said about whether or not Milner will sign a new deal at the Etihad is testament to how important he's become to Manuel Pellegrini's plans.

No longer in the shadows

Last season the England man was a bit-part player, starting just 12 Premier League games as he had to make do with a regular spot on the City bench.

However, with 14 games remaining this term he's already matched last season's number of starts and just this weekend he proved his worth.

When City get a set-piece around the box you expect to see Yaya Toure and David Silva take charge, but with Toure away on international duty and Silva having been substituted, Milner stepped up to the plate to score an exceptional last minute equaliser against Hull City.

Please don't go, James

Milner has been locked in negotiations with City for months now, but with his contract up at the end of the current campaign, time is running out for an agreement to be reached, but Zabaleta remains hopeful.

The Argentine full-back told the Manchester Evening News: "We know how important James is for this team, for this club. His commitment and his passion have always been fantastic for this club and this team.

"He is a player who can play in different positions, he is a great professional, and a fantastic lad. Hopefully he can sign a new deal and stay with us for many years.”

Magic Milner not enough for City

Despite the vastly improved Milner impressing in midfield this season, City have failed to recapture the form that saw them claim a second Premier League title last season.

However, Zabaleta insisted that City's poor form has nothing to do with the relaxed attitude some have accused them of adopting.

"I don’t think this squad is relaxed like the season after we won the league. It is just because it is really hard. Every season it is really hard to win, " he said.

Toure absence a factor

Zabaleta also admitted that his side have found things even tougher without inspirational midfielder Toure, who has spent the past month on international duty.

He said: "Yaya is one of the best players in our team, a player who many times has control of the ball in the middle, especially switching it from one side to the other, and scoring goals from outside the box.

“A player with his power and pace running forward always creates something, and he is one of the creative players we miss in those moments."

The Argentine defender was, however, keen to stress that City are no one-man team, adding: "Sometimes we need him in the middle, but Pellegrini said in the press conference that we have won important games without him. It’s not just about one player, it’s about the team."

Milner shining

If there was just one stand out player in the City team right now, it'd be hard to look past Milner.

Despite having not scored in the Premier League since December 2013, the 29-year-old seemed like a regular goalscorer as he confidently curled a fantastic free-kick past Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor on Saturday.

And in an attempt to find a positive from Saturday's draw which saw City fall seven points behind Chelsea, Zabaleta was full of praise for his teammate, saying: "There is still a long way to go, a point is a point, and it was a great free kick by James that saved a point.”

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James Milner
Manchester City
Premier League
Transfer News
Pablo Zabaleta

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