Sometimes I want to kill Mario! Zabaleta reveals frustration at maverick Man City team-mate
11:42 GMT, 4 December 2012
Pablo Zabaleta believes his Manchester City team-mate Mario Balotelli is up there with Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – but the defender revealed that the Italian drives him mad with frustration.
We have seen the sublime and the ridiculous from Balotelli since his move to England in 2010, but Argentina international Zabaleta is confident that the striker is destined to reach the top.
'Since Mario arrived he has done positive and negative things,' Zabaleta told Omnisport.
Livewire: Mario Balotelli keeps his Manchester City team-mates on their toes
'He is a player, a person too, who is very difficult to understand because you never know what he is going to come up with next.
'As a player, sometimes not all you have in the feet you have in the head, and Mario is a character that, as a team-mate, sometimes you laugh at what he does and sometimes you want to kill him. But in the end he is a great person.
'As a player he has a great talent. I don't know if he would be fighting for the Ballon d'Or with Messi and Ronaldo but he would be close to being one of the best strikers in the world.
'As a player, as I said before, he has done good and bad things at this club, but I think there is nobody better than (City manager) Roberto (Mancini), who had him at Inter and brought him here, to make Mario able to be mentally prepared to want to carry on growing.'
Former Espanyol man Zabaleta also revealed his admiration for Mancini.
'I think that Roberto is a manager that arrived at the club with the mission of consolidating the project that Manchester City started in 2008,' he said.
City boys: Pablo Zabaleta (2nd left) enjoys playing with Balotelli – most of the time
'The club hadn't won practically anything in 44 years and it was possible to win important titles like the FA Cup and the Premier League last year, and I think the people of Manchester City acknowledge Mancini's work.
'What he has done so far is great, but once you achieve these important things you have to stay the same, trying to consolidate this great project by winning more titles.
'Mancini is the manager and the people have given their backing to him, especially after the matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea.
'Right now he is the manager and he will know how to work in the future.'
Big up the boss: Zabaleta has nothing but praise for Roberto Mancini