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Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Hleb signs for Barcelona on a four-year deal

Alexander Hleb has set his sights on helping Barcelona return to their trophy-winning ways after completing his 'dream' move to the Catalan giants from Arsenal.

Hleb was unveiled as Barca's fifth signing of the summer on Wednesday evening after penning a four-year contract, and he will join Seydou Keita, Gerard Pique, Martin Caceres and Daniel Alves in a new-look squad next season.

The Belarus international's arrival is part of a major summer overhaul by Barca following two seasons without winning a trophy, and it is that situation that Hleb is hoping to change.

'I want to give my best for this club. I have realised a dream. My aim is to win many trophies,' said the 27-year-old, whose transfer will cost Barca an initial 15 million euros, rising to 17m depending on how successful the club is during his stint.

Hleb also hopes his versatility will be an asset to new Barca coach Pep Guardiola, insisting he is willing to play anywhere on the pitch.

'I am ready to play in any position, I am available to the the coach to play in any position, including goalkeeper,' he joked during his presentation.

Hleb joins Barca after three years with Arsenal, who he joined from German side Stuttgart before going on to make 129 appearances for the Gunners.

He also became the first Belarusian to appear in a Champions League final when he faced Barcelona in Paris in 2006, a match which Arsenal lost 2-1.

Also part of the Gunners side on that day was Thierry Henry, who will now be Hleb's team-mate again at Barca.

'I hope that he helps me to adapt to the city and the club,' Hleb said of the France international, who moved from Arsenal to Barca last summer.

Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain was pleased with Hleb's acquisition, and believes he will have little trouble settling into the team's style of play.

'He is Barca-style player - he is very technical, intelligent and has good movement. This is a reinforcement of quality and will create a lot of competition,' said Begiristain.

Hleb's former coach at Arsenal Arsene Wenger also spoke highly of the midfielder, who was voted Belarusian footballer of the year in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006

'We must firstly thank Alex for his contribution towards Arsenal Football Club during his time with us,' Wenger said.

'Alex played a significant role in the three seasons he was with the club. We are comfortable with our decision to let him go and we are all looking forward to continuing our preparations for the new season ahead.'




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