Hello Hleb, Ta-Ta Taylor

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So as expected, in comes Mr Hleb from Stuttgart, and now the hard work begins: What the hell do we sing?

At up to €15m, he’s the biggest signing we’ve made since Reyes, and interestingly, it’s a similar kind of performance related deal that we struck with the young Spaniard. That probably means the initial outlay is something like half that, with the rest being bolted on depending on how many goals he knocks past Chelski or how much he manages to win on the away bus poker night.

It’s great news, and it’s good to get a player in from the former Soviet Union. Since Oleg Luzhny left, we’ve had a gap there.

So what shirt number will young Mr Hleb sport? Well, we’ve got quite a few good ones we can offer him, though sadly, none of the traditional midfield numbers (4, 7, 8 or 11) are available. At least not right now.

We’ve got 2, 5 and 6 free, basically. To me it wouldn’t feel right to give a winger a defensive number, so next nearest would be 13 (unlucky for some, particularly so as it turns out for Stuart Taylor), or 21, which is quite a nice number, the key to the door and all that.

Talking of the lack of a 2, 5 or 6, is there some sort of a plan going on to retire the traditional numbers of the back four? All we need now is for Ashley Cole to relinquish his number and we’ve got a full hand. Not that I’m urging him to go or anything.

And finally, Stuart Taylor. I’ve always defended him – possibly overly so, I agree – but as predicted, he has left, for Aston Villa, in search of first team football. Based on his 15 or so performances a few seasons back I thought he was at least good enough to be our number two, but for the sake of his career he had to go, especially when he could not dislodge a keeper as middling as Manuel Faulty. With him gone, Stack out the frame and Almunia, well, just plain Almunia, I think another keeper is now a must. Lehmann shoved his critics’ criticisms down their gobs in the latter stages of last season, but he needs a good keeper to give him serious competition, a keeper ten years his junior who is A) Good enough to win the jersey and B) A long-term successor.

So, back to Hleb: Is it a silent H? Or does pronunciation require a guttural rasp? The kind you make when you have a fly lodged in your throat, maybe? So many questions, and so few answers.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. T

    i think you’re being a bit harsh about Almunia. Fair enough his judgment is a bit suspect but dont forget that penalty shoot out against Sheffield United he saved us. you’ve got a good point about the pronunciation of Hleb though. i bet the likes of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson will be having sleepless nights til the post-signing press conference – bless em. as for the guy’s shirt number, it can’t be 13 wasnt that the one they gave to Alex Manninger! I’m not the superstitious type but surely that would be a bad omen.

  2. yogithebear

    I think it’s supposed to be pronounced like a cross between”gleb” and “kleb.” Go ahead, I know you want to try it.
    Speaking of Stack, I always rated him since seeing him in the Carling cup a couple years back–His loan spell at Millwall is over, but doesn’t he have a criminal trial coming up soon?

  3. sean madden

    Helb is prononuced using a ‘K’, so it is kinda “Kleb”……..

  4. Nyssie the gOoNeR

    I think number 6 is a no no…as it was retired when Tony Adams hung up his boots….I reckon it’ll be 21

  5. Withnail and Ian Ure

    Hleb is pronounced as it is spelt, with a definate H followed immediately by the L. It is not a big rasp but a rasp nevertheless. Not easy for us to pronounce but my Slavic wife has no probs. She has not been any use when it comes to the song though. Maybe Alex will be easier to use, as in ”Alex, Alexander, Alexander on the wing”. Then I’m showing my age by using Georgie Armstrong’s song.
    His name means ‘bread’ by the way in case it has not come up previously.
    As for Taylor, sorry never been convinced, always appeared indesicive also. Then again good keepers are harder to find than it is to pronounce Hleb.

  6. Geoff

    Well apparently his name is pronounced Kleb but when watching the Belarus v Scotland game it was coming up on screen as Gleb & thats how they were pronouncing it, so really its take your pick time. Lets just hope the first letter does not turn out to be p-leb I certainly dont want that.

  7. Alec

    Stack has been acused of rape.. remind you of anyone?! Frey has moved on so to fiorentina so we wont be getting the good old Frey coming to england this summer blablabla…. I fancy Hleb (pronounced Kleb) to get the number 17 shirt left by Edu… then we also have robinho coming, fingers crossed. No real good keepers out there at the mo apart from the swedish lad isaksson looks like a good one.

  8. Steve Baker

    I would think 17 is the obvious shirt number

  9. Wayne

    Does anyone else imagine Hleb will actually be the new number 17, repacing Edu.
    That is the only number I imagine him getting, as I can’t imagine we will give him 21 while 17 is empty.
    I do agree we need a new goalkeeper though. If we want to replace Lehmann I would like Given, but a young up-and-coming keeper, I wouldn’t know where to start!

  10. RotorGoat

    Ah yes, 17. Good point.

  11. bongo et al

    Good Morning Comrades,

    The Taylor departure intrigues me – It is a cracking deal for AFC to garner £1.2 million. Especially as the more experienced Roy Carroll goes for nowt. In a nutshell that ilustrates the SHREWDNESS of AFC and Wenger.
    Likewise the hefty sale price of Pennant to Brum. Its these savvy bits of business that make us obtain players like Hleb.
    The loaning of Jermaine Allierdere to The Bhoys for £0.5 million also always outways the obvious bonus of the experience he will collect there.
    It has been a good week for The Alsatian (wenger)!

    BOngo ET al

  12. Geoff

    Bongo I agree with you, depending though on how much money wenger still has available this summer I wonder if Aliadiere could have been useful for us this season, I say that because we have just signed Hleb who is exactly the type player that Aliadiere would have loved playing with as he is always looking to play the strikers in. Although wenger knows what he is doing & probably wants to make sure Aliadiere is over his injuries without having to pay his wages for a year.

    Hopefully Baptista is a target, Robinho does not want to come which is fair enough but Baptista could give us real options up front & even allow Henry to be rested at times. A strike force of Henry, Reyes, Van Persie, Bergkamp & Baptista would frighten every team.

  13. halfNice

    I have it on good authority that Hleb is pronounced “Alex”.

  14. bongo et al

    Geoff -are we on talking terms today?

    If we can snare The Man Mountain from Seville -it will be the best close season signing of the summer. ALthough, one would imagine all the Big Clubs are looking at this fellow- Baptiste!

    In one swoop -a plan B would be formulated. An in another we increase our defensive strength-our achilles heel last season!

    Baptiste+Hleb=2006 Premiership Winners= ARSENAL

    Bongo et al

  15. Geoff

    Bongo, I reckon this summer would be the best time to get Baptista as all the big european teams such as real madrid, barcelona, juventus etc etc have other priorities than a striker & man utd cannot afford him at present. Chelsea of course could ruin it for us with a stupid offer to the player as they are struggling to get a striker, but other than them I really think it would be a clear run.

    I just hope that if wenger was really after Robinho, that he does have a back up plan. I am sure he will do but you just never know.

  16. Ruslan

    I wanna solve you the Hleb pronunciation problem. I am Belarussian (well i was till i was 12) and as far as i remember there is no letter G like in Gunner in Belarussian. Instead it is pronounced H. The word “Bread” in belarussian is in fact “Hleb” and pronounced like in “Home” or “Highbury”. So we should say it in the same way as we say “Highbury”. The biggest problem is that in the slovenian languages the combination of “H” and an “L” is commonly used and easy to say, but for an English speaker it is more awkward.

  17. T

    I think the Robinho/Baptista scene will cool a bit now RVP has been released. We still need another striker but the 10 million on Hleb is gonna cut our bargaining power and Arsene might have to pull another wonder signing out of the fire. On the subject of RVP wot is the dutch legal system all about did Hitler become their prime minister or something i cant believe the way they treated the guy.

  18. bongo et al

    I agree with T.
    The LIberal Dutch Legal system is a tad draconian!
    bongo et al

  19. Ruslan

    Did you know that Aleksander Hleb has a younger brother – Vjacheslav Hleb. He is a striker and i think plays for Hamburg but was on a loan somewhere in Moscow. There are rumours of him goimg to Anderlecht next season or maybe back to Hamburg to side with Van der Vaart.
    We could see the brothers play on the same field if Anderlecht will be drawn in our group.

  20. Goodplaya

    that was a great post. very amusing.

  21. Vince

    So according to Ruslan it’s Alex Highbury, that should be easy! Thing is, I still don’t know anything about him, it’s going to be an interesting season.

    What’s all this Baptiste talk? Has there been contact made, an offer made, have I missed something! If we are talking plan ‘B’ wouldn’t the Real Chosen One go for somebody like Dean Ashton who has been mentioned on these pages before, and he won’t cost a fortune either.

    Personelly, I think plan ‘B’ is: – Bring on even more quick skillful players, that’s the only way we know.

  22. T

    Sorry Vince but i couldnt agree less with that Dean Ashton comment. he had promise at Crewe but spending a season at Norwich hasnt helped him. If you’re looking for inexpensive English talent good luck cos youll need it. Look at SWP for example 18 million whereas Hleb is far cheaper and more established than young sean the only drawback is his last name and im sure we’ll get over that.

  23. uncle fester

    Greetings Arse mates it looks as though RVP’s case might be drawing to a closeif he is innocent i dont think AW will let him off the hook lightly he has already been told to shake himself up and now this if he is not careful i see another Pennant ,good luck to Stuart Taylor i hope things work for him at the Villa i know some of you dont rate him but injuries knackered his chances,as for the boy Hleb pronounced (Kleb) i have faith in AW to have picked his man carefully but is he one of the two big players we are going to sign or are there two more players to come?

  24. Geoff

    Well the whole deal should work out to nearly 10 million based on appearances etc, so at that price you have to assume he is one of the world class players wenger talked about.

    I do wonder if we are in for Emre aswell though, I am probably 100 miles wide of the mark here but when his agent said he will say where he is going tomorrow & that Newcastle, Everton & one premiership team which he is not allowed to name is in for him, i did wonder if that was arsenal as its exactly the way they do their business & I cannot think of another premiership team that does not play out all their transfer business through the press.

  25. vivb

    Carroll was out of contract like Edu, Penant fee was related to our training him (like the fee for anelka and Flamini).

    I fear AW won’t buy a keeper , Alumina performs well in training (it’s just during open play he is a nightmare). Lehmann is suspended for the first 2 Champions League games surely we have to buy a keeper. £2.5m would reportedly secure Green or Niemi.

    If Baptista is reported in the press as giving “come and get me” interviews you suspect he isn’t the other “world class signing”.

  26. Vince

    Mr. T, I understand what you mean about Ashton, he would not be my choice, I really did mean a plan B, ‘big bloke’ up front, I don’t like it and personelly, I wouldn’t go that route but he wouldn’t cost the earth, would probably be happy keeping the bench warm and he’s got to better than chavski’s biggun, dogba and look what they’ve done! The couple of times I’ve seen him he doesn’t look a bad player and with Taylor now gone I really do not want to rely on Almunia as our second or even third choice keeper so we would still have money for a decent one. I hate being critical of players but he really is, position for position, our worst player!

  27. bongo et al

    Obviously another goalie will be arriving at London Colney soon.
    And Obviously it will an obscure one from Europe.
    It will not be a big name- not Wengers’ style. He loves his hierarchies!-
    He loves the players knowing their rightful places! (Thats why THE HLEB signing is very interesting!)
    It means he thinks the Tatooed One’s days are numbered! Fading Fred’s ‘Ambitious Comments’ have backfired!.
    The Alsatian obviously has higher hopes for Almunia than of Taylor.
    And even though i have been a harsh critic of ‘The Spanish Clown’- I think we will see a marked improvement from him this year- No doubt he has the talent for shot-stopping (E.G Sheff U V AFC) its his decision-making that is questionable.
    Bomgo et al

  28. uncle fester

    I think Fred’s i wont sign until i see whose coming in could be about to kick Fred up the harris he is in a dodgy position i still worry that if Jens got injured the keeper spot is iffy but who?

  29. bongo et al

    The reliable Steve Stammers (Evening Standard) has tonight reported that Wenger is still pursuing the mercurial SWP! Even with Hleb aboard –
    He seems to think David Bentley and Justin Hoyte could be traded + £10 million for the player.

    We shall see!
    Bongo et al

  30. Bill

    mourinho is crap, ferguson sucks, but Hleb is a genius and can eat crumpets at my house

  31. T

    I agree on the freddie front bongo. i think Arse would do well to get a few quid for him now and use the money on either SWP or a new goalie though i still think almunia should be given another chance as number two keeper.. If Freddie stays i cant see us going overboard to get SWP tho it will piss me off if Chelski get him instead. I think we will land one more big name before the new season and maybe one or two obscure ones hard to say who but i got a feelin we mite go for an expensive striker and a cheaper goalkeeper. Gud luck AW we know you’ll do us proud!

  32. Bongo et al

    Re: Mr t,

    I agree with your comments- again- they are similar to my thoughts. Like you say.
    Whatever happens the brilliant Arsene Wenger will do us proud!
    Like he always has!

    RIP Richard Whiteley.

    Good Night,
    Bongo et al.

  33. Vince

    Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to get SWP and or Torres right from under the noses of chavski, they seem to be having trouble signing a decent striker, maybe money alone doesn’t talk and lets face it, if they can’t get what they want with money what else have they really got? Chav c–ts!!

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