Shut up Hleb, you were nothing more than a mercenary show pony

I remember chatting with fellow season ticket holders about Alex Hleb when he first arrived at Arsenal for our last season at Highbury.

We all agreed that he would be one of the hardest players to mark and that his trickery was something to behold.

But as we all came to realise as time went on, for all his skill, Hleb lacked the footballing brain to know when to pass and when to shoot.

He always seemed afraid to have a shot, and much of the time when he did, his efforts went skyward.

He divided opinion and I don’t doubt his skill but without the intelligence to best utilise it, his impact was sporadic.

I’m sure the recent “Shoooooooot” exclamations were provoked by him more than anyone else.

So after three fruitless years when, with time still remaining on his contract, the Belarusian wanted more cash, he decided to go to that other bastion of fantasy football, Barcelona.

Where he thought he would play, I don’t know and 17 appearances for Barca this season gives testament to him not making the grade at the highest level. Will he feature in Rome against M*nure next week? I don’t think so.

While he has a way to go to be the finished article, Samir Nasri has already proved to be a more impactful player, scoring goals that win games, scoring goals in big matches and showing a versatility that is a credit to his range of abilities.

So it bugs the hell out of me that Helb, who made his name at Arsenal, should come out making what can only be seen as unsettling comments in the direction of N5.

“Arsenal have had a lot of problems this year,” Hleb said. “They have the same problem every year with players leaving. They have a great team, but at the end of the season players leave and the boss has to find a new team and buy new players. This is not easy.

“Finances are always an issue there, but you'd have to ask Arsenal and Arsène A lot of the problem is to do with money. Players arrive at the club, have a good season and get a lot of better offers from other teams. A football life is short and, of course, you want to enjoy football, but together with this you need to earn money.”

Well it’s nice to know you as good as admit you’re a mercenary then, Alex –and look where it’s got you: a bit part player who has almost been forgotten.

Aren’t you the same guy who also said a few weeks ago: "I am right in the best years of my career and I do not want to spend those years on bench,” in reference to your frustration at the Nou Camp?

Moving for the money doesn’t seem quite so clever now, does it?