Six clubs in four years - Aleksandr Hleb's post Arsenal nightmare

Hleb

Alexander Hleb's name is often used as a deterrent for those thinking of leaving Arsenal for 'better things'. Here's what happened to him.

"I love this team, I will give my best and I want to win everything with Barca."  - Alexander Hleb's words after arriving at the Nou Camp in 2008 after three seasons at Arsenal.

Sadly for him, Barcelona did not love him back. He spent most of his time on the bench for the Catalan giants, making just five La Liga starts in his debut season.

He had taken a while to get going at Arsenal, and left after his best season at the club. It was a case of striking while the iron was hot, but even so, few expected him to make it as a Barcelona regular, and they were proved right.

He turned down a move to Inter Milan as part of the Samuel Eto'o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap deal a year later, electing to sign back on loan with former side Stuttgart.

Frustratingly for the player that move didn't work out either, he struggled for form and scored just one goal, and the Germans even considering ending his loan early they were so disappointed with him.

After heading back to Barcelona and sitting on the sidelines, he found his way back to the Premier League, with Birmingham. It will chasten Arsenal fans that the Belarus international saw his side win silverware against the Gunners in the Carling Cup, but Hleb did not play a part, missing the final through injury.

His time at Birmingham saw him a shadow of the player who starred at Arsenal. He blamed Alex McLeish's negative tactics for him failing to showcase his talents, but in truth Hleb had lost the spark he once had.

That was two years ago, in the time since, his prospects have not improved. Still a Barcelona player last summer, he had to wait until the August transfer deadline day last summer to clinch a loan move back to Germany with Wolfsburg.

It was no better. Injury ruined his spell there, restricting him to making just the one start. He returned to the Nou Camp at the end of 2011, and in January Hleb and Barcelona came to a mutual consesnt agreement to cancel his contract with six months remaining, allowing Hleb to look for a club as a free agent.

He found one, but the player who once turned down a switch to Inter Milan had to settle with signing for Russian club Krylia Sovetov. He made just eight appearances before being released this summer.

Now his career has come full circle, returning to his first club, Belarussian champions BATE Borisov. It may be there he finally finds some consistency and happiness, but at 31 his career has plummeted like a stone in just four years.

Injury, form, and the fact Barcelona was just the wrong move for him are the reasons why, and you would not be wrong in saying he never should have left Arsenal.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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