Football

Hleb: I was wrong to leave Gunners

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Alexander Hleb admits he made a mistake in leaving Arsenal last summer.

The Belarus midfielder has returned to Stuttgart, four years after he left the Bundesliga side, on a year-long loan deal after a difficult season at Barcelona. Hleb rarely featured as the Catalans stormed to the treble and he believes he should never have left North London.

He told ESPN: "Of course I regret leaving Arsenal. I was playing every week for one of the most exciting sides in Europe, a team which was always in the top four in the Premier League and were Champions League contenders."

He added: "Also, I was being guided by one of the best coaches in the world in Arsene Wenger. I owe him a great deal.

"I developed a better all-round game under him and I became more robust physically, learnt to look up more and play better passes and generally improved greatly as a team player. No player ever gets worse under Wenger. For me, leaving Arsenal was not a good move.

"A footballer only exists when he takes to the field and makes a proper contribution to the team and even though I was part of a Barca squad that was almost unstoppable, it was hard not to feel detached from all the happiness and celebration at the end."

Arsenal also had a poor season as they finished in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League, 18 points behind Manchester United who also dumped them out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage, winning 4-1 on aggregate. However, Hleb feels Arsenal can usurp United this season.

"Obviously, I still look out for Arsenal each week and I hope they can do well this time," he added.

"I think they will be in the top four again and could even push for the title if they don't have the terrible injuries of last season.

"People forget the long unbeaten run they had after Christmas last season, which was a good sign for this season."

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Topics:
Arsenal
Alexander Hleb
Football
Premier League
Manchester United

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