The Hleb dilemma

Alexander Hleb is the focus of this morning’s news. I was wrong yesterday when I said he had only one year left on his current deal, he has two. But due to the ‘Webster clause‘ of FIFA’s transfer regulations he can now buy himself out of his contract and move elsewhere.

Given the fact he was in Milan having ice-cream and that Inter really want him for next season who knows what might happen. Arsene Wenger has called the clause ‘very detrimental’ to Arsenal and there are genuine fears that the whole transfer market will change radically in the years ahead. The boss says:

For a club like ours, which is going for a youth-team policy, this rule is very detrimental. We educate them and then they could leave at some stage when they get mature. This rule is not good and we live in a world where it is also an incitement to inflation because you are always having to look at their contracts. Stability inside the club is a big problem because that problem is a huge inflation factor.

Having to constantly extend players contracts in order to keep that protected period means clubs having to pay more in wages and signing on fees. If another club wants a player they know they just have to cover the player’s wages for the remaining years of his contract instead of negotiating a transfer fee with a club and it surely means that players are going to be tapped up more. It makes it more and more difficult for clubs to hang on to players.

The boss says our potential should keep Hleb at the club, that a big move to a ‘big’ club doesn’t guarantee trophies. Look at Beckham, 4 years with Madrid and he won nothing until the last game of his last season. We know players have left Arsenal looking for glory but few have found it.

Hleb is player that divides fan opinions. I think everyone agrees that the man is technically gifted and possesses great skill on the ball. There are those that think his end product is sufficient, that he brings enough people into the game and contributes a lot to the way we play. There are those that think 11 goals in 3 seasons is just not enough for an attacking midfielder/support striker. He’s currently on a 31 game scoreless streak, his last coming at Reading in November 2007, and that streak is set to extend if the FA decide to punish him for a stupid slap on Reading’s Graeme Murty at the weekend. Murty’s reaction is pathetic but Hleb had no need to do that, unless he fancied his holidays a bit early this summer.

While Cesc leads the assist charts in the league with 18, more than any other player in the league, Hleb has 7. Now, I know we’re all talking about strengthening our squad this summer but if an offer came in from Inter shouldn’t we consider it if we can use that money to replace him with somebody who can score more goals and make more crucial passes?

Remember as well that Hleb met with Inter Milan before our Champions League game with AC. He’s the one casting doubts over his own future. I suppose it’s something for the manager to consider, I think ideally you’d keep him but bring in somebody that would give him real competition for his place. Is it any coincidence that his best form this season came when he was playing knowing that his position just off the striker was not permanent? Anyway, the debate will rage about Hleb, no doubt, but the reality of his situation is such that we would be foolish not to consider an offer for him in the summer, in my opinion.

With Italian clubs also chasing Adebayor (again according to the big man’s agent) William Gallas thinks it’s vital that the squad sticks together. I agree with that but there rather too many question marks over players futures at the moment and I suspect this summer is going to be the mentalist in terms of transfer news that we’ll ever have seen.

The Daily Mail suggests that Lukasz Fabianski will keep goal for us in the final games of the season, the manager wants to blood the young Pole in the league ahead of next season where he’ll become Almunia’s number 2 (har har). I can’t see that it’s a bad idea to be honest.

The boss also talks about Theo Walcott and how he’s got a good chance of starting the remaining games. He called his display against Reading his ‘most complete’ game for the club and I’d go along with that.

Arsenal reserves beat West Ham reserves 2-0 last night and everybody is drooling over the performance of young Jack Wilshere. He scored one and made one and there were comparisons being made with Dennis Bergkamp and Liam Brady. I didn’t see any of it myself but this is obviously a young man we need to keep an eye out for without going too overboard and expecting the world from him straight away – he is just 16.! Hopefully someone can find some highlights during the day.

And that’s about that for today. Champions League semis tonight – Mugsmashers v Cunts. I might have a look, I suppose.

Till tomorrow.

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