Hleb: I regret leaving Arsenal
The 28-year-old left the Gunners to complete a dream switch to Barcelona 15 months ago, where the Belarusian became a regular bench-warmer while the Catalan giants claimed an unprecedented la Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble.
Hleb returns to London on international duty this week as Belarus face England in the final round of 2010 World Cup qualifiers, and has confessed that walking away from the tutelage of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is something he regrets greatly.
“I was being guided by one of the best coaches in the world and I owe Arsene Wenger a great deal," he said.
“I regret leaving Arsenal. I was playing every week for one of the most exciting sides in Europe."
The midfielder is currently plying his trade back in Germany with former club Stuttgart, after the Bundesliga outfit secured a season-long loan deal for his services ahead of Serie A champions Inter Milan.
“I could have gone to Inter on loan but I turned down Jose Mourinho to go back to my old club Stuttgart, where I was always very happy,” he said.
And despite finding form back in the Bundesliga, Hleb acknowledges his best playing days to date have been in the Premier League with Arsenal, where he made 89 league appearances for the North Londoners in three seasons.
“No player ever gets worse under Wenger," he said.
"I developed a better all-round game there. I became more robust physically.”