Friday, January 27, 2023

Hleb: Wenger text had me crying while fishing

Alex Hleb says he’s still not sure why he quit Arsenal to move to Barcelona and admits he cried on receiving a desperate message from Arsene Wenger calling on him to stay at the Emirates.

The Belarussian joined the Gunners from Stuttgart in 2005 and became an integral part of the club’s midfield as they made the Champions League final in 2006 and challenged for the Premier League title in 2007/08.

Pep Guardiola went on to make the playmaker his first signing at Barcelona in a deal that earned Arsenal £12 million. Hleb’s time in Spain was to prove unhappy as language issues hit his confidence.

After one year he returned to Stuttgart on loan and then spent subsequent loans at Birmingham City and Wolfsburg. At 36 he’s currently without a club but still interested in continuing his playing career.

“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!’

“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 also revealed that Arsene Wenger was a paternalistic figure from the moment he arrived at London Colney, convincing him that he could make it as a top player at a big European club.

“Wenger is like a father to me. It was really easy to work with him, you always felt his support.

“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.”


It’s well worth reading the full interview with Planet Football in which Hleb talks about his time in Spain, living in Thierry Henry’s house, why he fell out with Pep Guardiola and a bit more on his Arsenal regret.

Related articles



newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

His end product was so poor. Not sure I ever saw him catch even one fish.

Heavenly Chapecoense

I laughed and laughed !


His fly tying was unequalled, his cast beautiful as a Van Gogh painting, his hook set as awesome as Joe Frazier’s left hook, I think you fault him for handing the reel to Henry to put the fish in the net

Reality check

A Belarusian Iwobi.. great technically, sound passing and link up play but lacking in end product.. complemented Cesc nicely..


Great manager of people, rubbish agents getting their share of the transfer fee.

Never a goal scorer but on what he did, he was great.

Andy Mack

Yes another example of agents screwing over a players career for a few more dollars.

Oddly he scored quite a few for his national team (and a few for Stuttgart as well), just not with us but he wasn’t bought as a scorer.


Like Ozil without the goals…

Heavenly Chapecoense

Ozil is almost without goals anyway..


Hence the …

Finsbury Park Gooner

Fuck that. Players are the boss of the agents, not the other way around. It’s their job not to be hoodwinked by their silver-tongued rhetoric. I’m sure the increased wages wasn’t an afterthought to any of the players that left in their prime for shiny new contracts elsewhere. I have to say I don’t have much sympathy them years down the line when they’re crying about what a mistake it was.

Gooner McGoonFace

Old Glue Foot Hleb. Impossible to dispossess him whilst he was dribbling.


My boy was a bit like that in his first couple of years.


I always liked Hleb. He was so skillful, though couldn’t shoot to save his life. I must admit i do see quite a lot of him in Iwobi. Though hopefully Iwobi can develop more of an end product.

David C

was going to say the same thing! neither can shoot! It’s bizarre, but I always thought smashing the ball somewhere near the net was just about the easiest part of football.

Probably why I only played at CB!

Drogheda gunner

I think iwobi has a long way to go.

Sheffield Gooner

Hmmm. “I didn’t really understand what I was doing”?

You were leaving for Barcelona – pretty obvious surely. Money is always the reason, unless you’re someone like Rooney who has too much already and just wants to play for his old club.

I remember him being decent, but he doesn’t stand out to me as a great loss to my club, unlike some others I can think of.


Vital part of one of the best midfields we ever had seems like a great loss to me.

Sheffield Gooner

Rose tinted glasses me thinks.


Watch all the goals scored by Arsenal between 2005 and 2008 (the build-up to the goals) and you’ll probably put the rose tinted glasses on too.


That midfield of Rosicky, Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb really should have won us the league.

Andy Mack

unfortunately we needed more than just a great midfield…


And we did – Adebayor, Van Persie and Eduardo were a potent strike force. If the latter hadn’t almost had his foot severed by that outrageous tackle, who knows we would likely have won the league


One word – Almunia

SB Still

I think we/they were on course as well, till someone decided to break a leg, which incidentally I think broke Wenger too.

It’s after a long time that Wenger seems to be fighting (the refs) now.


Guess who was the ref on that day? MIKE DEAN. Our team with Rosciky, Fabregas, Hleb, Flamini, Eduardo back then was much better than Man City now with all their riches.


Every couple of years blogs posts this and seems to love it lol.


Always enjoyed watching Hleb in an arsenal shirt…. he use to go past players for fun… his dribbling and close control was a thing of legends… was sad when he moved on…

He should of stayed but he git his head turned and that was his career declining in to retirement which he refuses to do.


Arsene loved how Hleb wouldn’t get dispossessed easily and could dribble out of tight spaces.

Apart from Santi and Mesut, the closest we have is Jack.

Sign him up!


We need a Mahrez.

Charles Charlie Charles

Club could have just refused Barcelona’s bid. As Arsene is always quick to point out, a transfer requires the agreement of 3 parties.

Sad it didn’t work out for him. Incredible dribbling skills, even if he did shoot like he was wearing a blindfold.

Drew Dewsall

Arsenal should show this to Ozil and Sanchez, the grass is never greener it should always be red!


not manchester red though

Thierry Bergkamp

Dribbling and close control like not many others. He had his faults in the final third but I was gutted to see him leave.

Hlebs dancing feet

Mehn I really rated Hleb back in the day, created space for others and he could beat a man or two at any point in the game. We don’t have enough Hlebs in our team nowadays.

Spanish Gooner

One of those players that those who didn’t watch will never appreciate. Brilliant player. For all those saying Pep invented tiki-taka – he watched Wengerball and made Hleb his first transfer target at the club, then came back for Cesc too.


The trio of him Fabregas and Rosicky was sublime to watch, with Theo and Van Persie up top. Those days were heaven. I must say I have enjoyed the Invincibles and the young pretenders generation of 2000-2010. We might have won very few trophys but the football was out of this world.

Faisal Narrage

Don’t ever recall Theo up top then. It was Van P and Adebayor.

Faisal Narrage

“Alex Hleb says he’s still not sure why he quit Arsenal to move to Barcelona.”

I’m sure that infamous ice cream had nothing to do with it.

Shame, I know he’s often a target for ridicule amongst fan, but in all honesty Hleb was my favourite player of that generation. Magician when it came to dribbling. I won’t forget that performance against Villa when he debutted in place of Cesc as the CAM and utterly ran the show; never dispossessed or tackles, and had 100% pass completion, even in the opponent’s box.


he was crying because he was happy that you was leaving


he went to barcelona by mistake!


Withnail & I !


‘I am ready to play in any position, including goalkeeper,’ he said during his presentation.

Pretty sure he knew what he was doing!


There have been a number of players who may have regretted moving to ‘greater things’ than us.

Flamini was another who came back to do penance and contribute something.

But even Fabregas you feel despite winning trophies with Barca and the whole defective DNA crap, would have had better legacy with us.

You wonder about RVP as well. I think he was frustrated with the way Wenger managed tactically and didn’t (rightly) see us competing for top prize but had he been wiser, he would have established a lasting legacy with us rather than become a footnote with United.

Blerim Lala

Players who left Arsenal for Barcelona like Hleb Fabregas Song Henry Vermalen etc they all regrets leaving Arsenal. They were benched all the time and lost their career.

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x