Hleb won't use 'Webster clause' - but may leave

May 13, 2008

Alexander Hleb would not resort to buying out his Arsenal contract but could still be set for a summer move away from Emirates Stadium, according to the player's agent.

The future of the Belarus winger has been the subject of much speculation ever since reports emerged of secret talks with Inter Milan, allegedly held while he was in the Italian city ahead of Arsenal's Champions League game against rivals AC Milan at the San Siro.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was less than impressed by public comments which followed from the Serie A club expressing thier interest in a player under contract, and even went as far as threatening to report them to FIFA.

Hleb's agent Nikolai Shpilevski last week added further fuel to the flames, claiming his client was 'leaving Arsenal - there's no way back now'.

However, Wenger had warned any player who was contemplating the termination of their contract under the 'Webster clause' that the process was not as straightforward as it had been made out, with the risk of being banned while the dispute was resolved through arbitration.

Yet it appears Hleb, signed from Stuttgart in June 2005 in a £12million deal, is considering his options.

The 27-year-old - who missed the final three games of the Premier League through suspension - admits he is 'not a big city man', and may be looking for a move for other than footballing reasons.

With Wenger keen to get his squad shaped for the new campaign as quickly as possible - having already seen midfielder Mathieu Flamini walk away to join AC Milan on a free transfer - the situation is likely to be resolved sooner rather than later.

However, any transfer would, according to Hleb's representative, be conducted in the usual manner.

Shpilevski told Russian website www.sports.ru: 'Alexander understands perfectly well that he plays for a great team, but the moment has come where he needs to make a choice.

'Hleb has been playing in London for three years now and isn't sure whether in the future he can show the level of talent that he is showing currently.

'I can only confirm that some of the world's biggest clubs are interested in him. In any case I can say simply that Alexander will not buy out the remaining part of his five-year contract for a fixed sum of his sale.

'Hleb is a gentleman and will not stoop to that level. Everything will be done properly.

'I am sure that the situation surrounding this issue will finally be resolved in the next 10 days.'

Shpilevski added: 'There are no problems with regard to his playing opportunities.

'Alexander is just tired of the noisy and chaotic life in the British capital and feels like living in calmer surroundings.'

In a separate interview with Belarus newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, Shpilevski stressed: 'If any clubs want to add Hleb to their ranks then they should hold talks with Arsenal.

'Nobody is hiding the fact that a player of Hleb's class is of interest to all teams, including Barcelona and Real (Madrid). But the subject of a transfer to Inter has been going round and round for over for a year now. It's a normal occurrence.'

While Hleb refused to be drawn on his own future, the Belarus winger revealed one potential reason why he may be thinking about a move.

'I am not a big city man, I need my retreat - that is why I am often in Germany. Stuttgart is my second home, my friends are there and it is where I feel most comfortable,' Hleb told German website www.transfermarkt.de.

Hleb, though, noted: 'There is a lot of speculation about me, and I will not be making statements on this and stirring it up further.'

The former Stuttgart midfielder added he 'owed a lot' to the faith of Arsenal manager Wenger.

Hleb said: 'It was not bad for me personally over the last season and I have got quite a lot of praise - but I am very tough on myself, there is always something to improve.

'If you think you have satisfied everything, that is your first mistake. But I do not make public my errors - my strengths and weaknesses are for others to judge.'