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By ESPN Staff
Jul 8, 2008

Hleb plays down rift with Wenger and Fabregas

Alexander Hleb has played down suggestions of a rift with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and team-mate Cesc Fabregas but still looks set to leave the club.

The Belarus international has been consistently linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium since the end of the season, with the likes of Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid all mentioned alongside favourites Barcelona in the battle for his signature.

But despite making complimentary noises about his time with the Gunners, his suggestion that 'in life, everything changes', could be interpreted as confirmation that he will be on his way sooner rather than later.

'I am very grateful to Arsene Wenger. He is the best coach of my career. And not just a coach. He is a very good man and intuitive psychologist. I very much appreciate his support,' he said.

'I talked to him twice before the end of the season (about my future). It is also not that easy for me to leave this club, because it has become my home. I think he is upset, though it is better to ask him, maybe he is glad.'

Hleb added: 'In life, everything changes. I believe that there are 10 top clubs in world football, and when a couple of clubs are interested in you and offer better terms, I believe that others would have done exactly the same.

'But Arsenal is dear to me, I am grateful to Wenger for everything he has done for me.

'As an Arsenal player, I can say that there is no better club in the English Premiership.'

Hleb, 27, also sought to clarify his relationship with Fabregas, insisting the pair got on well after reports that he had branded the Spain midfielder 'selfish'.

'Cesc and I understand each other very well on the field. And it is very, very pleasurable for me to play with him.

'He's a very pleasant guy both in life and as a footballer. He is just more egoistic in goalscoring opportunities, if he had a chance to score, he always used it, unlike me.'

Although the chances of retaining Hleb's services now look bleak, the likelihood of star striker Emmanuel Adebayor leaving for AC Milan looks to be receding after the two clubs failed to agree a fee.

The 24-year-old is one of the main targets of the Rossoneri, along with Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o, as the club look to recruit a world-class front man.

But AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has revealed the Italians are unwilling to match what Arsenal are demanding for the Togo international, with reports suggesting the Gunners want around £36million.

'I have had contact with (Arsenal manager Arsene) Wenger and right now we are divided on an important difference in terms of value of the player,' Galliani said.

Of his two striking targets, he added: 'They are both great forwards. But they could both remain where they are.'

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