But manager Manuel Pellegrini has stripped Zabaleta of the role and given it to Yaya Toure.
A source told the Daily Star: "Some of the players are surprised and disappointed that Pablo has been stripped of the vice-captaincy.
"Pablo is the ultimate professional. He is so influential on the pitch and in the dressing room that there was a sense of shock at that.
"He has worked with the manager before so the assumption among the group was that Pablo would continue to wear the armband in Kompany's absence.
"But it has been taken away and he has been in and out of the side.
"In tough away games they need someone to get them going and Pablo was always effective in that respect.
"Yaya is a world-class footballer, one of the best, but he would probably be the first to admit that he isn't as vocal as Pablo."
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