Alexander Hleb has opened up on his move from Arsenal to Barcelona in 2008 – and conceded it was a huge error to leave Arsene Wenger’s side.
The BATE Borisov midfielder – back in London for side’s 3-1 Europa League defeat to Chelsea on Thursday night – admits he wishes he could have turned back the clock to remain at the Emirates.
“Looking back now, it was a mistake signing for Barcelona,” said Hleb, now 37.
“I lost my best years. I made some errors and I was never able to show my best.”
Hleb joined Barca for £12m a decade ago, but the Belarus playmaker turned out only 19 times for Pep Guardiola’s side.
He was helped by his former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry in Spain, but admits he was not favoured by Guardiola.
Hleb was loaned out to Stuttgart, Birmingham and Wolfburg before joining Krylia Sovetov Samara in Russia in 2012.
“He (Henry) offered me a spare room in his house,” said Hleb in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“Thierry comes to me and says, ‘You’ve lived in hotel for a long time, come and live with me’,
“If we had a day off friends would come round, and it was easier for me to adapt. I lived there for a few months.
“We watched Arsenal’s games together and talked about everything. Henry helped me a lot.. I wanted to play and I was annoyed because Guardiola wouldn’t put me on.”
“Later, I realised that it was my fault.”