Pablo Zabaleta revealed Manchester City players were putting Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo up in the locker room after being taken over in 2008.
Zabaleta joined City from Espanyol in that year as the Abu Dhabi United Group took over the club, leading to big spending by the Premier League outfit.
The full-back said City players were preparing to welcome Barcelona star Messi and Ronaldo to the club.
“Ten days after my arrival, the purchase of the club by the people of Abu Dhabi is executed,” Zabaleta told La Nacion.
“Four days later, they invest £40 million for Robinho and there I said, ‘Now what do I do? I’m going to last six months here.’
“We took it a bit as a joke and…in the locker room we started putting ‘Messi’, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. We were sh*tting ourselves.”
Zabaleta, who left City for West Ham in 2017, is nearing retirement from club football and admits the coronavirus pandemic may accelerate those plans.
“I think about it every day. I wake up thinking, ‘Is this what awaits me after retirement?’ Now, somehow, we’ll go back to training and we will see. But it’s all still uncertain,” he said.
“I had even come to think, at the end of this season, to give myself the joy of playing one more season in another league, perhaps in Italy, but now I don’t know.
“The chances are you won’t play in front of a crowd, so what motivation could I have left? Why go to Italy if mythical stadiums like the Olimpico in Rome or San Siro will be closed?”
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