Aleksander Hleb has renewed his contract with BATE Borisov and can’t wait to face Arsenal in the Europa League, the ‘club of his heart’.

hleb badge kiss
(JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal face BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Valentine’s Day before the return leg on February 21 and there is every chance that they will be facing former Gunner, Aleksander Hleb.

Now 37, the attacking midfielder has decided to extend his stay with the club he first joined way back in 1998 before he headed to Stuttgart and then Arsenal.

“I had offers, but I decided to re-sign the contract with BATE,” Hleb told Sport24.ru correspondent Ararat Mambreyan. “Therefore, I will continue my career, in fact, in my own club.

“In the future, I have a desire to get a coaching license. I plan to learn to coach in parallel with the career of a football player. Most likely, I will start coaching courses in Moscow.

“If I manage to enter the Emirates against Arsenal, I will have special feelings. Still, “Arsenal” in my heart.

“I look forward to meeting Arsenal in London in the Europa League.”

Since leaving Arsenal in 2008, Hleb has struggled to find a home. He was only in Spain a season before he was sent to Stuttgart on loan. Further loans to Birmingham and Wolfsburg filled his time as a Barca player before they finally let him leave for KS Samara on a free transfer.

From there he moved to BATE Borisov, Konyaspor, and Genclerbirligi, clubs he bounced around a few times before ending up back with BATE last March after being without a club for nine months.

Hleb spent just three years with Arsenal before Barcelona turned his head and ruined his career.

The King of the pre-assist, Hleb made 131 appearances for Arsene Wenger, scoring 11 and assisting 16. He has never come close to those numbers since leaving, managing just 36 appearances for Barcelona with only three assists.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.