Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta reveals that he was happy upon hearing that rivals Manchester United had signed his Argentine compatriot Angel di Maria.
The former Real Madrid wizard traded the Santiago Bernabeu for Old Trafford in the summer as the Red Devils splashed out a record £59.7 million for his services.
Di Maria has made seven appearances for United since joining the club, scoring three goals and assisting a further four, but Sunday’s clash will be the biggest to date.
The 26-year-old has accustomed to the world’s biggest club games having competed on numerous occasions in the renowned Spanish El Clasico between Madrid and Barcelona.
On Sunday, he will get his first taste of the Manchester derby and his likely opponent down the left flank is no other than Argentine compatriot Zabaleta.
The Citizens' full-back admitted to being happy that Di Maria signed for United before revealing his thoughts of facing his friend at the Etihad stadium on Sunday.
“I was so happy when he signed for United because he was really excited to come here and play in the Premier League. When I see him happy, I will be happy as well – off the field," he is quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
“He’s a really good player, quick with great technique. He’s one of those players that defenders find really difficult to play against. You need the perfect day to stop players like him. I will try to play as good as I can.”
Zabaleta joined the Citizens in the summer of 2008, moving from La Liga side Espanyol for a moderate fee reported to be around £6.45 million.
The 29-year-old defender has faced Di Maria in the past, with their most recent outing being the Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Manchester City in 2012.