Hleb: I have taken backwards step

Barcelona midfielder Alexsander Hleb has admitted that he has taken a backwards step in his career by re-joining former club Stuttgart on loan. The former Arsenal playmaker joined the la Liga giants last summer, but made just 19 league appearances in the club's unprecedented treble-winning campaign, with the midfielder struggling to displace the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi. The Belarusian has since returned to the Bundesliga outfit until next summer in order to get some badly needed match action under his belt. And Hleb has conceded that his career has taken a turn for the worst by having to re-visit Germany, but hoped that it would prove a stepping stone to achieving greater things once again. "It's true that I have taken a step back in my career, but sometimes it's necessary to take one step back to take two steps forward. Let's see how the season goes," he said in Sport. "It was hard to resign myself to not getting game time, but if the team wins every game, how can you complain to the coach?" And Hleb confirmed media speculation that he was close to joining Inter Milan on loan instead of Stuttgart, as part of the deal that saw Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap Milan for Catalunya and vice-versa. "I was practically an Inter player," he said. "I was in Milan but my agent closed a deal with Stuttgart, a team I love very much because I spent five years there before joining Arsenal."