Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Hleb becomes Barcelona’s fifth signing (photos and video) but Arsenal’s fourth midfielder to leave
By 1970’s Gooner
Alexander Hleb will become tomorrow the fifth player signed by Barcelona this transfer window.
New Barca boss Pep Guardiola has already recruited defenders Daniel Alves (Sevilla), Martin Caceres (Villarreal) and Gerard Pique (Manchester United) as well as midfielder Seydou Keita (Seville).
He has already told Eto’o he can go and agreed to Ronaldinho’s transfer to AC Milan (which happened today) and Deco’s to Chlesea.
Hleb arrived at Barcelona’s premises this afternoon where he posed for photos before undergoing medical tests. The official Barca site states that he will sign tomorrow.
You can watch Hleb at Barca’s premises on the video window on the right hand side of this page.
He will cost an initial £12 m rising to £13.5m for a three year deal depending on the club's success. The buy-out clause in Hleb's contract with Barca has been set at a staggering £71m!
Hleb said that it was a dream of his to play for Barcelona:
It is "a dream" to be able to sign for the Blaugrana."I really like this team. I love it. I will give my best"
Hleb is the fourth Arsenal midfielder to leave Arsenal this season.
First there was Diarra to portsmouth (for £5m) then it was Flamini for free to AC Milan, today Gilberto arrived at Athens and is about to put pen to paper tomorrow to a three year contract offered by Panathinaikos (£1.2m for Arsenal). And now Hleb.
Total transfer fees received amount to about £20m.
The worrying thing is that an already thin squad is getting thinner and thinner.
Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey have arrived who are both exciting midfielders. However they are both young and relatively inexperienced (Nasri is 21 and Ramsey 18).
More importantly it is at the defensive side of midfield that we are getting thinner.
The question is whether Wenger will recruit a more experienced defensive midfielder to add more nous as well as create more viable options.
This will be needed to cover for injuries, bans and the Olympic tournament which will take Song away and possibly Toure (the Ivory Coast team has not been announced yet) for the most part of August.
Recent press reports of Wenger’s interest in Gareth Barry and Xabi Alonso if true seem to make sense as these players are experienced and battle ready in the Premier League.
However, Wenger as we indicate in the poll we have set up, has some other options within the current squad to fill the void left in the defensive side of midfield.
He can promote one from the remaining midfielders like Diaby, Song and Denilson.
He can also become more imaginative by playing Toure there and installing in his place in defence Song, Senderos or Djourou.
However I would prefer he buys in more options in midfield who would compete for their first team place along with the existing players.
I say this as I consider one of the main reasons for the collapse last season was a thin squad which was also littered with relatively inexperienced youngsters.
Wenger will then begin to worry about replacing Adebayor…if he leaves.
Poll results so far…
About 32% of the votes on the poll go for the new midfielder option. But 26% want Diaby to be given a chance. Total votes cast at the time of writing: 1197
Arsene’s revised transfer plans?
The woman behind Nasri!