The Manchester City vice-captain was tasked with marking the Wales international in a 2-1 victory over the north London side earlier in the campaign.
And Zabaleta has been impressed by the Spurs winger, who has scored 21 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions this season.
“The best Premier League player? Gareth Bale, a force of nature,” Zabaleta told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Meanwhile, Zabaleta feels Mario Balotelli’s return to Italy was “inevitable” after the striker completed a £19m move to AC Milan from City in January.
“I think Balotelli’s departure was inevitable. It had become a difficult situation,” he added.
“Mario is a great player, who must learn to better manage his life off the field. He should be more disciplined and quiet. Returning to Italy and staying near to his family is helping him.”
Zabaleta insists City are still in the early stages of their project after a disappointing campaign which has left the Citizens 15 points behind league leaders Manchester United with eight games left to play.
“My relationship with Mancini is great,” he added. “You can talk with him not only about football, but also life problems.
“We [City] must grow as a group and in mentality. United have built a winning culture over the last 20 years, while City’s project is at the beginning.”
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