Arsene Wenger says he understands why Alexander Hleb wanted to move to Barcelona, but that the midfielder made the wrong decision to leave Arsenal, something that’s backed up by his career trajectory since.
The former Belarus international went from the Catalan giants to loan spells with Wolfsburg, Birmingham and Stuttgart, before lining up for the likes of Krylia Sovetov Samara, Konyaspor, Gençlerbirliği, and tonight’s opponents BATE Borisov back in his home country.
It was Arsenal’s presence there that prompted the questions about Hleb, and the Arsenal manager said his transfer to Barcelona was one that had a detrimental effect on his career.
“I would say at the time when he left for Barcelona, they were the best team in the world by a distance,” he said. “You can understand that he was tempted to do it.
“It was not the right decision for him because he didn’t have the career after and I think it had a negative impact on his career.”
“He was a great, great player but he played on the same side as Lionel Messi. That is nearly an impossible task for every player in the world.”
Pressed on whether he’d be catching up with his former player, Wenger continued, “He’s coming to visit us. It’s not easy when you have such a long career to have as much an interesting life as when you play.
“I will ask him what he is doing.”
Going for ice-cream, perhaps?