For a few Arsenal fans, Alex Hleb was one of the best wingers ever seen at the club. To me, despite his excellent technique and ability to keep the ball stuck to his foot (in a way that almost replicated Harry Enfield’s legendary Gunner, Charlie Charles), there was a serious lack of end product from Hleb. In short, Hleb exemplified everything that is wrong about Wengerball: pretty approach play without tangible results.
I don’t recall Arsenal winning trophies with Hleb in the team. The reason why: he flattered to deceive, a bit like Tomas (‘The Great Pretender’) Rosicky – who developed a knack of fooling the fans into thinking he was running back to help the defence, but would turn his initial recovery sprint into a leisurely stroll. Like that ‘good little player’, who contributed very ‘little’ (hence the ‘good little player’ epithet), Hleb was equally ‘good’ at creating little in the way of real chances.
Anyway, that was then. More recently, it was interesting to hear that Hleb is offering the following advice to wantaway players at Arsenal: don’t do it! Of course, Hleb was always likely to get found out at a club like Barcelona when he moved on, although he must have sufficiently pulled the wool over their scouts’ eyes in order to engineer a transfer.
The difference between Hleb and the current wantaway players is glaringly obvious. Ozil creates goals by the dozens, while Sanchez is capable of despatching the chances created. Unfortunately for Hleb, for all of his delightful approach play and fooat work, there was rarely any final product.
Therefore, how could we be surprised to hear he was less successful and (dare I say it?) less ‘indulged’ at Barca? No wonder Hleb regrets leaving Arsenal.
I doubt if Ozil or Sanchez will regret moving on, as I expect both to join stronger clubs on more lucrative terms and go on to win trophies galore. Unlike Hleb, I’m pretty sure Ozil and Sanchez will not be lured away by ‘ice cream’ promises.