MANCHESTER CITY legend Pablo Zabaleta has revealed how his ex-team-mates joked they’d be playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after the takeover.
The Premier League side became one of the richest clubs in world football overnight when billionaire Sheikh Mansour purchased the club in 2008.
They wasted no time in signalling their intentions by smashing the British transfer record to land Robinho for £32.5million.
A host of huge money signings would follow over the years including Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Yaya Toure.
And Zabaleta, who was the club’s final signing before the takeover, claimed how the rest of the dressing room were left nervous over their futures.
He told La Nacion last year: “Ten days after my arrival, the purchase of the club by the people of Abu Dhabi is executed.
“Four days later, they invest £40million 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 s******g ourselves.”
The Etihad club tried to make their dream of signing Messi a reality in 2017 by offering Barca a then-world record £100m move.
But City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano was forced to admit defeat when the Argentine magician signed a new deal at the Nou Camp.
Zabaleta would become a huge favourite during the new era at City making over 330 appearances in nine years.
He won five major pieces of silverware including two Premier League titles before joining West Ham.