Arsène Wenger understands why Alexander Hleb left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2008, but believes the move harmed his career.
Arsenal face BATE Borisov in the Europa League tonight, another former club of Hleb. Wenger revealed he plans to meet with the midfielder and admitted his career fell by the wayside after he left the Gunners, reports Arsenal.com.
“I would say at the time when he left for Barcelona, they were the best team in the world by a distance. 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.” Hleb made 89 appearances in his three years with the Gunners, but followed that up with only 19 appearances for Barcelona over the next four, as he was loaned out three times and eventually sold.
To go from Arsenal, to Barcelona, to Birmingham City in the space of two years is probably not how the veteran imagined his next step going. But the downside of the Belarus international going to one of the best teams in the world is that he had to find a place in that team and clearly it didn’t work out.
Arsenal are favourites to see past BATE Borisov in tonight’s Europa League meeting to go top of the group after two games. Wenger is planning to have talks with Hleb this evening, admitted that his former player has agreed to pay him a visit.