To me, Hleb isn’t a huge loss. When I first saw him play for the Gunners in a friendly match in the summer of 2005, I immediately liked the player and saw massive potential in him. He was breath of fresh air at the time. Unfortunately, though, he never quite lived up to his potential. Sure, he was an integral part of Arsenal’s squad but he lacked consistency. And, more importantly, he lacked the killer goalscoring touch knocking in just seven goals in his history with Arsenal.
Hleb’s departure from Arsenal to Barcelona reminds me of another foreigner who played in England and then was signed by a Spanish club. That man is former Arjen Robben who was signed by Real Madrid from Chelsea and was another naturally gifted winger, like Hleb.
Robben was another player that rose to prominence in England, showed flashes of brilliance but never quite achieved the top level of his game. In Madrid, Robben has fought his way into the side and scored four goals last season, which helped him contribute to Real’s 31st Spanish title in their history.
In the battle between Spain and England to acquire the best talent from around the world, the loss of Hleb and Robben doesn’t leave a gaping void in the Premier League. Both Hleb and Robben are replaceable. Arsenal’s new signing Samir Nasri will slot into the hole left by Hleb.
That said, it was a pleasure to see Alexander Hleb play in the Premier League. He was an important element of the attractive football that the Gunners continue to employ. I wish him the best of luck in Barcelona and look forward to seeing the Gunners take on the Catalan giants undoubtedly in a future Champions League match to see how Hleb has progressed after his move to Spain.
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