Hleb admits leaving Arsenal a mistake

Birmingham City midfielder Alexander Hleb admits he made a mistake in leaving Arsenal for Barcelona in 2008, but is hopeful his loan spell at his new club can reignite his fading career.

The Belarusian international has endured a terrible two years since leaving Emirates Stadium, and the the 29-year-old has acknowledged that he should never have left Arsenal having established himself as an integral member of Arsene Wenger’s squad during his three-year stint in the Premier League.

Hleb failed to break into the first team during Barcelona’s treble success in 2009 before being shipped out to former club Stuttgart on loan.

The former Gunners playmaker is now back in England with Birmingham City and returns to Emirates Stadium this weekend hoping to continue rebuilding his career with the St Andrews outfit.

Hleb told Sky Sports: "Of course it is my fault I left Arsenal but this has happened.

"Not a lot of players say no to Barcelona but if I had known before what would happen of course I wouldn't have gone.

"I won the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 but I didn't play a lot. I lost a bit of my form and confidence.”

Hleb is hoping a season-long loan under Alex McLeish at Birmingham can rebuild his confidence and kick-start a career that has been in steady decline for almost two years.

“I made a decision to come to Birmingham," he said.

"I decided for one year to come back to the Premier League where I am very happy and want to take this chance."

By Tyler Stellman