Former Arsenal star Alexander Hleb has admitted that he still doesn’t know why he left the club, even if his move to Barcelona was a step up at the time.

The former winger has been speaking to RAN in Germany about his old clubs and his time with the Gunners, which he insists was among the best of his career.

Hleb joined Arsenal in a €15m move from VfB Stuttgart in July 2005 and went on to make 130 appearances for the club, scoring 10 and assisting 20.

He never managed to win anything during his time with Arsene Wenger’s side, instead finishing as a runner up in the League Cup in 2006/07 and the Champions League in 2005/06.

By 2008 he had departed for Barcelona in a €17m move but that turned out to be something of a disaster for him as a year later he had already been sent back on loan to Stuttgart, which was then followed by loans at Birmingham and VfL Wolfsburg before eventually being released on a free in 2012.

He bounced around numerous clubs after that before eventually retiring in March 2020 and now, looking back, it seems he regrets leaving Arsenal, which ultimately started a spiral downwards for him.

“I dreamed of a path like this as a young player: you start at a smaller club in your home country, then you go to Central Europe, you become a leading player through hard work and then move to a big club,” he said.

“Arsenal is a top club, had many top players at the time and a top coach in Arsene Wenger. Of course it was difficult to leave VfB, Stuttgart was like my home.

“But I realised that it was time for a new challenge. It was just a great feeling when I felt that Arsene Wenger wanted me at Arsenal and trusted me.

“I was absolutely happy at Arsenal. The coach trusted me, English football suited me. Everything was great. It wasn’t easy to move on from Arsenal. Until now I can’t say why I changed.

“From a purely sporting perspective, it was a step forward. Barça was the best team in the world. The atmosphere was very good. Everyone was nice to me; all the players were great.”