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'Hleb was a great player... but with Messi'

Alexander Hleb

Our trip to face BATE Borisov on Thursday will be particularly special for Alexander Hleb.

The playmaker was with us for three years between 2005 and 2008, and has had four separate spells with the Belarus side too.

After leaving Arsenal, Hleb signed for Barcelona - a move the boss said he could understand.

“I would say at the time when he left for Barcelona, they were the best team in the world by a distance,” Wenger said. “You can understand that he was tempted to do it. 

“It was not the right decision for him because he didn’t have the career after and I think it had a negative impact on his career. 

“He was a great, great player but he played on the same side as Lionel Messi. That is nearly an impossible task for every player in the world.

“He’s coming to visit us. [I will ask him] is he happy and what is he doing? It’s not easy when you have such a long career to have as much an interesting life as when you play. I will ask him what he is doing.”