16 Apr 2008

Forget Gareth Barry and Michael Johnson. Alexander Hleb should be Liverpool's no 1 target.

Alexander Hleb is exactly the kind of player Liverpool should be trying to sign, and if there’s any truth in reports that the Belarus magician is on his way out of Arsenal, then Liverpool and Rafa should do everything in their power to snap him up.

In the last week, Hleb’s representative Nikolai Shpilevski has revealed that three European giants have joined the chase for the Arsenal star but no formal bids have yet been forthcoming. Shpilevski explained:

“I’m often approached about Hleb. I have nothing to hide; Alexander is a world class player. Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona are interested in him, but there are no official offers.”

Hleb is a gifted, intelligent footballer, blessed with fantastic technique, genuine creativity and a superb range of passing.

He also plays football the Liverpool way: direct pass and move with an emphasis on retaining possession. If he is available for as little as 12 million, then there is no excuse for Liverpool not to at least make a bid.

To not do so would be tantamount to professional negligence in my view. There is no argument about Hleb's ability - he is a top class player and would seamlessly fit into Liverpool's system.

For me, Hleb could be Liverpool’s new Peter Beardsley, and instead of buying more unnecessary central midfielders like Gareth Barry and Michael Johnson, Hleb should be Liverpool’s number 1 transfer target.

I’ll be emphatic on the point: If there is any possibility of landing Hleb then Liverpool should pull out all the stops and make it the priority of the summer.

Hleb is clearly worth more than 12million, and if Liverpool can offer more than that to ensure they get him, then that is what the club should do.

With figures of 12million being touted for Man City’s comparatively unproven Michael Johnson, it’s easy to see how Hleb represents an unmissable bargain.

With Hleb in the team, Liverpool could line up like this (using Liverpool’s current squad):

--------------------------- Reina

Carragher ----- Skrtl ---- Hyypia ----- Aurelio

------------- Mascherano --------- Alonso

Benayoun --------- Gerrard --------- Hleb

------------------ Torres

Hleb is better than any other player Liverpool have in terms of midfield creativity in my opinion, and if the club invested in top class wingers and full backs, we could be looking at something like this:

--------------------------- Reina

New Right Back ---- Skrtl ---- Carra ----- New Left Back

--------------------- Mascherano

New R. Winger ----- Gerrard ----- New L. Winger

--------------- Hleb

------------------ Torres

Or this, which is my preferred formation:

--------------------------- Reina

New Right Back ---- Skrtl ---- Carra ----- New Left Back

-------------- Mascherano ------ Gerrard

New R. Winger ----- Hleb ----- New L. Winger

------------------ Torres

Hleb could alternate with Gerrard in the role just behind Torres, and could also play out wide on occasion. With Mascherano protecting the back four, Gerrard could still be free to roam, and he and Hleb could do serious damage together.

As I said above, why does the club *need* more central midfielders? Having too much competition for midfield places is a negative thing, as Momo Sissoko discovered.

Liverpool have Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva and Damien Plessis knocking on the door. There is no need to for Michael Johnson or Gareth Barry…unless Alonso is to leave of course, which doesn’t appear to be an imminent possibility.

So forget Barry – good player that he is. Forget the likes of Johnson and Behrami or any other unproven squad players who would stop Liverpool’s youth players from breaking into the first team.

Hleb is a proven premiership player and is the real deal NOW. He is exactly the type of player Liverpool lack, and I for one would be ecstatic if the club could sign him.

And if Liverpool can steal Tomasz Rosicky from Arsenal as well…


  1. His goalscoring record is rather poor - considering we will be playing with 2 'defensive' midfielders, we need the front four of the 4-2-3-1 to be able goalscorers, which Hleb is not (and never has been) ...

  2. Hleb's goal record is fine - I'm more interested in his creativity and ability to make goals for others. He doesn't play in his favoured position often for Arsenal anyway, and 70+ goals in 136 league games for Stuttgart in his favoured role proves he can and will score goals.

    He's a better option than Kuyt, Babel and Benyoun in my view, which is why Barcelona and Real Madrid are after him and not triumvirate I just mentioned.

    He's in England already. Proved and settled. Available for peanuts. Liverpool should be in for him. If the club does not pursue Hleb then it is professional negligence as far as I'm concerned!

  3. i think he would be a fantastic signing,but would wenger let him go?

  4. I dunno Jaimie, an attacking midfielder should have a better 'goal record' than 7 in 88, which is what Hleb has for Arsenal. That is poor ... He's a good player who does create havoc but as I said in my original post, he offers little goal threat (quoting stats from the Bundesliga is fine but his Gooner stats 'tell' the story of his English experience). We need a player who can offer more ...

    And Real Madrid/Barcelona have been after a few players that I'm sure you didn't want ...

  5. Who's going to sign him? (or anyone else?) The latest whisper is that Rafa will demand from Gillet equal backing he gets from Hicks-or leave in the summer. Gillet is a stubborn B. and I don't think he wants Rafa as anything other than a subordinate. Amidst the likely chaos of the summer, I doubt that Hleb will be a priority.

  6. Why isn't Dan Agger in the mix on your lineup prediction?

  7. I disagree with you here Jamie. Hleb's passing is nothing special at all, in fact I would say passing is the weakest part of his game; not just the quality of it, but the timing too. Like most good players, every now and then he can pick out something amazing, but so can Barry etc.

    He is certainly one of the best dribblers in the league and incredibly skilful, but what does he actually do when he gets in good positions? Is he particularly good at any of these:

    final ball


    The last one is the biggest concern: Hleb is not a finisher. We struggle for goals from midfield as it is.

    On top of all that, he is very lightweight and incredibly injury prone.

    He would simply not be a good investment.

    However, I also agree that Barry and Johnson are not good enough either for Liverpool.

  8. hleb would fit perfectly in kuyts role....the lad is absolutely brilliant,couldnt agree more..should be a top priority target if allowed to leave arsenal....he is the 1 that create most of afc chances, forget bout fabregas..hleb is teh 1!!
    and if adebayor can score 20 league goals with the quality of service hleb gives...torres and gerrard can bang at least 30 each

  9. Yikalo Yohannes4:21 pm, July 10, 2009

    R U KIDDING, no xabi alonso, agger, benayoun or riera, this is a complete joke