Wenger: Hleb’s move to Barcelona the wrong decision


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?

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Also see Alex Song.


and Emanuel Adebayor.



Reality check

Pls Don’t mention TV5 in the same breath as Adebayor or even song. TV didn’t jump ship, he was dropped for a year and a half before he got the chance to get out. Never complained or said a bad word about the club or the coach.


I’m sure they’ll throw back the ‘Yes, but I won titles’ bit…..


Sometimes I’m not even sure it’s worth it, really. Look at RvP. He won, what? One Premier League title and then fell off the footballing map completely. Do you think it’s worth it for one title? I’d be pretty upset.

Reality check

Sometimes it’s not about the value or the worth, you just have to do the right thing. Tbf he’d probably think he did the right thing as he’s got what he wanted and we are only getting further away from what he wanted to achieve with us: the PL.

Tanned arse

It’s vanity over happiness. I can never understand how looking back on your career is more important than enjoying your daily life.


Should have stayed, though you can see the temptation to go to Barca.


And I’m sure his agent appreciated the fee he got, even though he didn’t advise Hleb well.


True that. When at his best he reminded me of Pires, dreamy dreamy Pires. Ah well, we’ve got Iwobi now and he’s ready to step up to that level, can feel it in my loins.


Hleb, the pre-assist master. That move was a terrible decision. But hindsight is always 20/20.


I thought it was the right move, because he was a crap player, that’s why he ended up as he did

Kwame Ampadu Down

Crap might be a touch harsh but he certainly wasn’t very good. It was a great deal for us to move him on.


You forget he was instrumental in the 07-08 season. He was a fantastic foil to Fabregas and made so many key passes and runs. We were demonstrably worse when he left.

People are quick to combine a lack of shooting and our ultimate failure and think it means Hleb was crap. He was excellent in my opinion. Better than some in the side now.

Kwame Ampadu Down

Not forgetting at all….I was bemused in 07-08 why anyone praised him. Extraordinary close control, magical almost…but we’re not a 5-a-side team & ultimately he offered no end product. Very few goals, very few assists…..and for a player who offered absolutely nothing defensively that is what he should be judged by. We were demonstrably worse the season after because we replaced Flamini with Denilson & that bite that enabled our attacking players to get on with their stuff was gone. We replaced Hleb with Nasri who – although ultimately ending up being a total knob – was better for us… Read more »


I thought he was awesome and instrumental to the movement and space created by that team. Barcelona didn’t come knocking for nothing.


Barcelona have also bought crap players in the past, and still do, so that’s no recomendation

Parisian Weetabix

It’s not actually all just opinions. A football match is something we all agree objectively happens, and almost all of us agree that provided the team as a whole is a) scoring goals, b) not conceding them, and c) winning matches, the team is objectively “better”, in which case it’s not at all opinions. Each of these objectives is affected by what the players objectively do on the pitch, in which case we could state that a player is objectively better than another as regards his capacity to help fulfil these objectives, and therefore that his presence or absence has… Read more »


Bore off mate


I haven’t forgot, he was good sometimes, but most of the time he was second rate, as I said if he was that good how come he ended up where he did…I think that proves it


You can’t have seen him play too often then


I would gladly take Hleb of that year in this team now..was technically brilliant, a good passer and arsenal is yet to have a better dribbler


I think we had the best midfield trio at that time Hleb, Fab and Rosicky. The problem for Hleb was that he never went for a shot.

Stringer Bell

He was a very gifted football player. Absolutely superb in midfield of cesc flamini and roskicky. Some of best football I’ve seen in years in 07/08. We should have won league that year but for the meltdown at Birmingham. If adebayor rolls ball to bendtner for tap in I believe we would have won it.

Only one Dennis Bergkamp

You said it… I still replay adebayor’s shot hitting the post when even Bendtner could have scored. And then the penalty that wasn’t as well as Gallas’ meltdown. Not even getting to Eduardo. That Birmingham game was horrible in so many ways….


He was a dribbler. If you watch the games the opposition always ended up putting three players on him which created space for the other playrrs. So when he lost the ball it often broke for an arsenal man in space. I liked him and was disappointed when he left.


This can be said about many players who left us in the past 10 or so years. Cant think of many who furthered their career.


Really? Fabregas, Nasri, RVP, Cliche, Toure all went on to win major honours whereas we’ve stagnated. The last 3 were nearer the end of their careers as well


Yeah, many of them won plenty as negligible squad players. First year or two were good for some, then a downward spiral in a big way for almost all.

Tasmanian Jesus

They might have won medals, but Fab, RVP and Nasri all stagnated after leaving too.




She said many. Cesc was one of the exceptions but he never quite achieved the greatness ymthat he mightof done if he would have stayed

Faisal Narrage

True. But he got the accolades and titles that he almost certainly wouldn’t have got had he stayed.


Maybe with him in our sides to build around the accolades and trophys would have come. Maybe the year rvp left we would have won with him and giroud popping them in. Maybe if I had 1000 monkeys typing at 1000 typewriters…

Andy Mack

Who was to know that RvP would have a pretty injury free year after leaving us. Many on here expected it to be a transfer from our physio room to their physio room.
Shit happens…


Did not enjoy his conduct but you could understand why he chose to leave. I think the moment that sealed it was in a game when Wenger inextricably took off one of our best players in a match (can’t remember against who)in the Ox. You could see RVP incensed by the decision. I think you could at least say RVP went on to help Fergie bow out in style. BUT a real shame he didn’t stay on and attain legend status with us instead of the trophy but really in the larger scheme of life, not much respect. There’s more… Read more »


Yeah, I don’t think so. The accolades didn’t really come when we got Sanchez or Ozil so I don’t see how they would have come had we kept a hold of Cesc.

Parisian Weetabix

Cesc bled red while he was here. You could see it every time he scored. He was Arsenal’s identity, like Stevie G or Totti. Ozil and Sanchez have never loved Arsenal as much as Cesc did, and I don’t think Cesc’s ever loved a club as much as he loved Arsenal – even if he expected to when he left for Barca. He dragged an average team to an above-average position, and though it’s an entirely moot point I like to think he would have dragged an above-average team to greatness.

Tasmanian Jesus

True, but he wont be remembered for it.
Im pretty sure Gooners remember more Fabregas moments than Barca and Chelsea fans do. And theres a simple reason for it, he was awesome with us and mostly an average squad player after.



Fab had his best seasons with us. Never really captured the allure thereafter with defective DNA. Big mistake to go to Barca.

Nasri and the rest were carried by their betters. Those sort of trophy wins are ultimately meaningless.


many have furthered their careers, not many have improved as players. but that is more about our transfer policies than anything. during the financial struggle years we were developing players, once developed other teams bought them, we didnt sell anyone before their development was completed. now though, things have changed in the last two seasons we have sold 2-3 ‘exciting’ young players whom might go on to improve as players in szcz, gnabry and the ox. what really sucks is gnabry left because the ox was one of the players infront of him, only for the ox to go the… Read more »


Not have improved is quite an understatement. Most were benched to hell in two-years time.

Dial square

Some of the comments on here!!
Obviously written by people who never saw him play, he was so skilful, great close control, good dribbler and good vision for a pass, really underrated in my opinion, but hey, footballs all about opinions..


The ball seemed to stick to his feet! Incredible close control.

David C

Iwobi plays a little like him. I loved Hleb, can’t understand the negativity towards him. Maybe people are just upset that the team didn’t win as much as it should have during that period…


Same, one of my all time favorite arsenal players second only to henry at the time. A marvelous player even though I don’t believe he reached his full potential at arsenal.

Crash Fistfight

Master of the pre-assist!

Good ole Dribbly McNoscore – he was in equal parts infuriating and mesmerising.

Faisal Narrage

When you think about it, the current Arsenal from that 07/08 squad can be seen in the difference between the both departed Ox and Hleb.

Both fundamentally the same type of players with similar strengths and weakness, between the two, I’d still have Hleb.

naija gunner

Add unselfish to dat, he will rather pass to some other person to score even if the net is empty. I use to love him back den.

Ray parkour

Solid ice cream burn on old Dribbly McNoscore blogs. His career probably would have been better if he went to inter though

Andy Mack

He’d have been playing for that wanker MaureenO, who’d probably have had him cleaning the other players boots due to his Arsenal connections…


We absolutely love an Alex don’t we?


speak for yourself


King of the pre assist!


Very good player in my opinion, very underrated. Quick feet, eye for a pass… but for the love of god SHOOT!

Alexander Pleb

A beautiful dribbler of the ball who could frustrate the life out of me at times, but he’s definitely in my list of cult favourites.


When he was at Arsenal, Hleb was my favorite. He was such a beauty to behold.


at least hleb does not go around telling people he could have signed for barca. he took the risk and went there.
unlike wenger who reminds us always of the big clubs he had to turn down to stay with us.
not that i like hleb a lot. never liked wenger’s decision to go for non athletic type players.


change your name please.

Dennis has vastly greater class than you have shown here.

Andy Mack

AW doesn’t volunteer this info, he’s just answering journalists questions.
He does that because he’s classier that you are.


Right. My mistake. Forgot that he took us from the champions League to the classier europa cup.
Wonder what class Ancelotti is now that he got sacked.

Faisal Narrage

Not even gonna deny it, I LOVED Hleb.
One of my favourite players of the Post-Invincibles squad (along with Tomas). Sure he had little end product, but he was arguably our best dribbler in terms of just keeping the ball.
I remember we had one game where Fab was injured, so he played in the Cesc no.10 role. I think he has like a 100% pass completion and just kept dribbling till eternity.

Loved him. His fault for everything that happened afterwards.


I can’t imagine what question prompted the last reply.
Journalist: what will you do when he comes down to visit?
Wenger: I will ask him what he is doing


Give us this day our daily Hleb.


As much as I liked Hleb why did Barcelona come sniffing after him anyway? Wasn’t exactly a world beater was he? ??

Cliff Bastin

Not many players can retire the number 13 jersey


The mistake was not realizing his mistake soon enough. He should have pushed for a move back to Arsenal after a season.

Andy Mack

It’s rarely wise to take a player back after he’s made such a big effort to leave.
It sets a bad precedent where some players may think they can cause shit to get a move and if it goes wrong then they can always come back.
It would have been a similar problem with Cesc where he went ‘on strike’ to get his move away.


His close control of the ball is one of the best i have seen. We could have use his dribbling trickery in his prime.


Most players live in a bubble and their egos make things even worse. Am with Wenger on this one, for once!


Hleb was an excellent part of the team…He never used to shoot and his goals and assist numbers weren’t great but he was superbly talented…he was that pass/dribble before THE pass guy.

Teryima Adi

Hleb the master dribbler


You know, I remember him as part of an Arsenal team that pleayed some of the best football I’ve ever seen. At his peak he was an amazing player and that’s why Barcelona at the time (when they wanted all our players) bought him and that team was the best in the world so you have to understand why he was tempted even though he knew it was going to be really difficult for him to play constantly. what I didn’t expect was he being completely erased and 2 years later being loaned. It’s a shame but those are decisitions… Read more »


bottom line is, hleb was a mediocre player, he was ok sometimes, but most of the time he was average player, and it don’t matter what you say or think that’s the way it was wheather you like it or not

Paulie G

The list of players who went to shit after they left Arsenal is a lengthy one. Hleb, Van Persie, Petit, Anelka, Adebayor, Dixon (He’s a shit commentator), etc.


RVP wasn’t shit when he left, just had one good season left. A gift to Fergie.

Anelka was still a very good player, just never settled.

The rest yes, they had their better moments with THE Arsenal.

Wild bill

He loves talking about players that shouldn’t have left Arsenal and players that he nearly signed. I wish he’d consider that good players wouldn’t want to leave and good players would want to sign if we showed a little more ambition and a little less satisfaction with mediocrity.