So it seems Alexander Hleb could be on his way back to the Premier League. With the player himself insisting that he enjoyed his time in England, and Manchester City (unsurprisingly) and Aston Villa both showing an interest, it seems it could be time for the Belarusian to return. Would it be a wise move for a player who has struggled since leaving London?
Unquestionably, yes! Hleb is a strange type of footballer. You can’t put him in the Ashley Young category of wide winger who enjoys crossing from all angles, nor could you put him in the Carlos Tevez second striker/play maker group, so where does that leave him? Well certainly not as a Gareth Barry box-to-box midfielder. In fact, Hleb is different from all of them. He has pace, skill and a first touch that can beat a player on its own. In my opinion he is a fairly unique kind of player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he is the best player in the World here, but I do believe his style would bring something different to whichever team can secure his signature.
Despite leaving London stating that could not adjust to life in London, the Barcelona man (currently on loan at Stuttgart) has realised he made a mistake and, as reported in The Daily Mirror, has stated: “The chances for me to stay at Stuttgart next season are zero. Barcelona will decide my future and I am open to any option. But I have shown at Arsenal that I can play in England and enjoy the Premier League.”
Very good news for the interested parties. So what would Hleb bring to, say, Manchester City or Aston Villa?
Currently, City have four players battling for the two places on the wing. Petrov, Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson and Craig Bellamy all have one thing in common, bags of pace! However, how many times in a game would you see any of those drifting inside into the central areas and whilst still looking equally comfortable on the ball? Precisely what Hleb could bring. Whether he suits Mancini’s style is another matter, but if a different type of winger to what he currently has is what the Italian needs, then he need look no further.
At Villa Park, Martin O’Neill has assembled a team that is young, vibrant and ambitious. Hleb would be a good addition to a team who attack with more pace than any other team in the league. The Belarusian would definitely not be lagging behind as the counter-attack gets going, but he could also provide a cool, and fairly experienced head, when the going gets tough. Equally adept playing on either side of midfield or even behind a front-man, Hleb would be a very good addition to an already impressive Villa squad.
At 28 years of age, Hleb is entering his prime. Having already shown that he is capable of cutting it in the Premier League, there are very few reasons as to why teams should not look to him this summer. A reported £8million price-tag will certainly not bother Manchester City while Martin O’Neill will have to assess how important a part the player could play in his team. Whatever the outcome of this transfer rumour is, the player would be a welcome addition to the Premier League, again.
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