‘I didn’t know why I left Arsenal for Barcelona, I regretted it’ – Hleb

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The Belarusian in an interview with planet football has moaned over his decisions to leave Arsenal for Barcelona in the summer of 2008.

Alex Hleb joined the North London side from Stuggart in 2005 and was an integral member of the team that lost the Champions League final to Barcelona in 2006.

The 36-year-old, who had over 100 appearances for Arsenal before leaving for Barcelona in a deal reported to be £12m in 2008 admitted that it was difficult to explain the rationale behind his move away from the Emirate.

“It’s still difficult for me to explain why I left Arsenal,” Hleb told planet football.

“I was absolutely happy there. Arsene completely trusted me, it was idyllic. And then I decided to leave.

“I was on vacation and agents and managers convinced me that I had to go to Barcelona. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what I was doing. At some point, I realised, ‘Oh god! I’m leaving Arsenal!”

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The former Stuggart midfielder revealed that he cried upon receiving a desperate text from Wenger for him to stay put at the North London club.

“When Arsene said that it was a matter of hours, I felt devastated. It was really hard for me to accept that. 

“Wenger did everything to make me stay at Arsenal.

“He even texted me as I was fishing. ‘Alex, I won’t let you go, we need you here.’ I cried when I read it.”

Hleb, was amongst a host of players who have traded Arsenal for Barcelona in recent years – Thiery Henry (2007), Fabregas (2011), Alex Song (2012), Thomas Vermaelen (2014) but he conceded that most of them regretted the leaving the Arsenal and the club.

He explained further: “During my first season in England, I picked up in injury while playing for the national team. So, as I was trying to recover from it, I told Arsene that maybe it would make sense to send me on loan to Germany or something.

“He was like, ‘Stop it! I believe in you! Don’t even think about things like that.’ Honestly? I just flew out of the room. It really felt like I had wings. 

“Arsene truly feels his players. He says exactly what a player needs to hear. I think there are very few guys who might say that they haven’t enjoyed working with him. Everyone felt like they would get a chance. And I think most players who left ultimately regretted it.”

Hleb also admitted that his failure at Barcelona was his fault as he failed to learn Spanish and became isolated from the team.

The 36-year-old, who is currently without a club said he was not planning of retiring from football.

“It’s not about money, really. I just want to play in an interesting league. But I won’t move anywhere without my family,” He added.





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