The Argentine spent many years at City and will remain a fan favorite for a long time to come.
Zabaleta believes that if his countryman does end up at City on a free transfer in the summer, he will shine in the Premier League.
Messi has been disappointing for Barcelona so far this season.
"I know that Messi must not be enjoying this situation right now," the former City defender told Marca.
"He must just be thinking about what is best for the future and getting the club back on track to win trophies. I don't know the plans for City and Messi's idea.
"The best thing for him is to focus on the current situation. If he has to change clubs, I would be very happy if City were chosen."