Alex Hleb still regrets leaving Arsenal for Barcelona

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Alex Hleb has admitted he made a big mistake leaving Arsenal for Barcelona in 2008, saying it is a decision that still makes him sad to this day.

The Belarus international became something of a stalwart during his three years with the club, helping them to reach the Champions League final in 2006.

He was also part of the team that came close to winning the Premier League in the 2007/08 season, where the Gunners finished just four points from top spot. He finished the campaign as Arsenal's second-highest assist maker after Cesc Fabregas.

After that, Arsene Wenger struggled to keep his best players at the club with Hleb one of the first to grow tired of the lack of silverware. He moved to the Nou Camp in an £11.8m deal and exclaimed that his "dream" had come true.

But the dream quickly turned into a nightmare when it became clear he would not be a first-team regular under new manager Pep Guardiola. A forward three of Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi would soon cement themselves in the team, leaving Hleb to pick up the scraps.


The next three campaigns would see him go out on loan to Stuttgart, Birmingham and Wolfsburg before sealing a free transfer to Russian team Kryliya Sovetov. He's been on quite the journey since then, playing for no less than four clubs including three separate spells at Bate Borisov.

Now 35-years-old, the Belarus international looks back on his time at Arsenal more fondly than anywhere else and admits he should never have left the Emirates, where he was one of Wenger's prized stars.

He told Sky Sports: "I was playing at the top of my game in London and it was the best moments of my career," he said.

"On the one hand, I regret that I did not stay at Arsenal. Wenger was like a father to me and trusted me. I get sad when I start to think about this.

"On the other hand, Barcelona was and still is the strongest club. I did not play that often, but I still got game-time."

The treble

If Hleb's affection for Arsenal was in any doubt, he eradicated it by claiming the current crop of stars could win the treble this season. Having won seven of their last eight games, Hleb thinks the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil could win multiple honours this term.

He said: "I hope the team will win three trophies this season - the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League. This Arsenal side certainly has the ability and I will really be supporting them."

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Thierry Henry
Premier League
Theo Walcott
Francesc Fabregas
Alexander Hleb

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