Ronaldinho out, Hleb in | inside World Soccer

Ronaldinho out, Hleb in

Friday, July 18, 2008

Belarus international Aliaksandr Hleb has completed his £11.8 million move to Barcelona from Arsenal on a four year contract, less than 24 hours after the departure of two-time World Player of the Year Ronaldinho.

The transfer could cost another £2 million depending on the player's performances.

The 27-year-old has set his sights on helping Barcelona return to their trophy-winning ways after two terrible seasons winning a trophy, which led to Frank Rijkaard being sacked and replaced by Pep Guardiola for this season.

Hleb had been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium after the player had made it clear he wanted to leave Arsenal despite having two years left on his contract.

The midfielder admitted he was 'mentally tired' of the combination of living in London and playing top-level football.

Inter Milan were said to be interested in him - even accused of making an illegal approach - something the player and the club denied, but it is the Catalans who won the race to sign the Belarusian and will see him team up again with former Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.

Hleb, who was voted Belarusian footballer of the year in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006, joined the Gunners from VfB Stuttgart for £11.2 million in 2005 and has scored 11 goals in 129 Premier League appearances for the club.

He also became the first Belarusian to appear in a Champions League final in a 2-1 Arsenal defeat to Barcelona at Paris in 2006.

Hleb becomes Barça's fifth signing of the summer.

Barcelona have already landed Malian Seydou Keita from Sevilla and three defenders, former youth team Gerard Piqué from Manchester United, Uruguay's Martín Cáceres from Villarreal and Brazilian Daniel Alves also from Sevilla.

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