The right-back compared his compatriot to their fellow Argentine Carlos Tevez, who helped City win the Premier League two years ago after returning from exile.
"It's a good time for Sergio to come back. I can see why people say it's similar to Tevez returning - although it's a different situation," Zabaleta told reporters.
"Like with Carlos, it's great for any team to have the best players back again - particularly at this part of the season. That's the good news for us.
"He is an important player and he is going to score goals. He is fast, he is quick. Sometimes we need a player like Sergio."
City take on Liverpool this Sunday in what promises to be a crunch top-of-the-table clash.