‘Hleb joined the wrong club after leaving Arsenal’

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald Updated: 20 May 2021 12:26 CEST 3 min read
‘Hleb joined the wrong club after leaving Arsenal’

Alexander Hleb moved to the wrong club when he left Arsenal for Barcelona.

That is the view of his former agent Ulrich Ferber, who has opened up on the player’s struggles at Camp Nou.

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Attacking midfielder Hleb had developed an impressive reputation with Arsenal before his departure in 2008.

A move to Barcelona did not work out, with Ferber believing Hleb’s chances of success were reduced when Pep Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard, who had been desperate to sign him.

Hleb was only used as a rotation player under Guardiola and Spanish football proved a struggle.

Ferber says a better option at the time was Bayern Munich.

He feels Hleb would have performed better there having previously played in the Bundesliga for Stuttgart.

‘Wenger loved him at Arsenal’

“At Arsenal he had the best time of his career,” Ferber explained to Goal and SPOX.

“Arsene Wenger loved him. Then Barca and Bayern wanted him.

“We talked to both, he ultimately chose Barcelona.

“On the plane on the way to sign the contract, I sensed that he was looking forward to it, but also doubting it.

“In this situation, I probably should have had more influence.

“He should have signed with Bayern after all.

“Barca was a huge club, but returning to Germany and the overall package in Munich would probably have been a better fit at that point.

“But Aleks wanted to play with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Thierry Henry.”

‘Pep Guardiola found no use for him’

Hleb left Arsenal for Barcelona, where he struggled

Hleb left Arsenal for Barcelona, where he struggled

Hleb only ended up playing 19 La Liga games for Barcelona, struggling to settle.

He was loaned to Stuttgart after one season and never recaptured the peak form he had shown at Arsenal.

Ferber added: “Frank Rijkaard and [then Barca director of football] Txiki Begiristain were desperate to sign him.

“However, Rijkaard had to leave before Hleb arrived.

“And Pep Guardiola found no use for him.

“At Arsenal, he played almost all the time, so he was not used to playing only about 60 per cent of the games.

“He also had problems with the Spanish mentality, having already had to get used to the German and English within a few years.

“In terms of his skills, he clearly had what it takes.

“Watching him play with Messi and Iniesta was poetry.

“In the end, it was based on mental problems and he also failed because of his pride.”

Two of Hleb’s former clubs are in action on Thursday, with Barcelona facing Granada in La Liga while Arsenal play Villarreal in the Europa League.