Well, it finally, finally happened. Alex Hleb has officially left Arsenal. The Belorussian midfielder has joined for a fee around £12million and signed a four-year deal with the Spanish club. Hleb had the following to say about leaving Arsenal for Barcelona:
“I want to give my best for this club. I have realised a dream. My aim is to win many trophies. I am ready to play in any position, I am available to the the coach to play in any position, including goalkeeper.”
I wonder if he’s ready to play off the bench, because I have a feeling that that is where he is going to spending most of his time. Barcelona’s manager Pep Guardiola has already spoken of his desire to utilise Thierry Henry and Bojan Krcic to the fullest next season and with Samuel Eto’o and of course Lionel Messi on the books, Hleb is going to find it hard to get a starting spot.
But, fair play to him. He’s undoubtedly a very good player and although I never felt like Hleb realised his full potential with Arsenal I think he’ll suit the Spanish game. Although he acted like a bit of a prat while trying to weasel his way out of the club, I do wish Hleb good luck for the rest of the career. Yes, I am that nice a guy.
One man who perhaps will not wish Hleb all the best is Arsene Wenger. And even though the manager was professional enough to thank Hleb for his contribution, he also couldn’t refrain from taking a sly dig at the Belorussian:
“We must firstly thank Alex for his contribution towards Arsenal Football Club during his time with us. Alex played a significant role in the three seasons he was with the Club. We are comfortable with our decision to let him go and we are all looking forward to continuing our preparations for the new season ahead.”
Heh, heh, heh. “We are comfortable with our decison”. Classic.
In other words, “We can afford to let you go because you are not as important to the side as you once were.” Which is a fair point to make when you consider the club has just signed Samir Nasri and also has Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela on their books. Oh yes, there will certainly be life after Hleb.
Indeed, combining the five players mentioned above with the quartet of out-and-out strikers at the club – Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, Eduardo and Nicklas Bendtner – illustrates just how much variety and quality is in the current squad. If Wenger can make the appropriate defensive adjustments then I have every belief that Arsenal can challenge for the title again next season.
In today’s other major news story, Gilberto Silva has moved a step closer to signing for Panathinaikos after flying over to Greece for a medical. I spoke about my feelings on Gilberto’s exit yesterday and you can read them here if you are interested. Otherwise, there’s not much more to say on the issue.
Before I go today I want to reveal the final results from the first Wednesday Poll that was also included in yesterday’s post. The question I posed was: “Do Arsenal need to sign a new Vidic-like centre-back?”.
There were 282 votes and a massive 254 (90%) of you agreed that Arsenal do need to make a signing, while only 28 (10%) of you said it was not necessary. So there you go, Arsene, the fans have spoken. Get out there and bring in the new Tony Adams!
Well I’m done for the day. The weekend is nearing so hold on for dear life until then. Cheers.
Have your say on Hleb or Gilberto’s exits or yesterday’s poll by leaving a comment.