But while Zabaleta, 32, prepares to say his farewell in tomorrow's final home game of the season against West Brom, another of City's "old guard" Yaya Toure is surprisingly set to be handed a contract extension. That's why it will be a very emotional moment.
Zabaleta takes enormous satisfaction from helping turn City from mid-table mediocrity and living in United's shadow to Manchester's top club.
Should that not transpire, or Toure accept a more lucrative deal elsewhere, senior figures at City have already considered the possibility of inviting him back next year to say goodbye to the fans.
"There are clubs who have already qualified for next season's Champions League, but for Yaya, Manchester City is a very special club".
Whether he will be with the former Premier League champions next term is open to debate but, while stating there has been no contact with club officials, agent Dimitri Seluk confessed it would be tough for the in-demand schemer to leave City.More news: Pletcher confident of Derby winner at Preakness
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"I remember at that time [Sir Alex] Ferguson and the 'noisy neighbours, ' and this is something that I have been since that time!"
"Hopefully all the fans come to support us and to express gratitude for one of the most important players in the history of Manchester City". For me, we couldn't let people say something like that about us.
"As a player you are happy to play games on the field and this is something you enjoy the most, but if you really care about the club, you feel something inside of you that you want to create something big and that was one of the main things for me". In my situation at a big club - I'm sacked, I'm out. He is is the third player to have made the most appearances in the current squad, behind Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany. He's an exceptional professional and someone who has been extremely reliable. "To be like Pablo, first you have to be that personality and you have to be a long time here".
The Spain global told City's official website following a 2-1 victory over reigning champions Leicester: "The final weeks of the season have been tough, but we could win against Leicester and I'm very happy for these three important points".
It will also be Pablo Zabaleta's last game at the Etihad after the club announced he is joining West Ham. "That's why Pablo Zabaleta is so, so important".