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Europa League round of 16 draw

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Trending: Man City edge Monaco in thriller

By ESPN Staff

Hleb denies criticising 'best friend' Fabregas

Barcelona new boy Alexander Hleb has denied calling former Arsenal team-mate Cesc Fabregas 'selfish' and insisted the Spain midfielder is one of his 'best friends'.

Hleb spoke out after a newspaper article quoted him lambasting Fabregas, as well as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

'I don't know where they got all this from,' Hleb told Spain's Sport newspaper. 'There's a certain type of English press that is worth nothing, that only invents things and this is one of those cases.

'They did it with Cesc and Arsene, inventing things that I didn't say or taking my words and using them out of context. I'll explain what happened in both cases so that it is clear for once.

'With Wenger they said we argued and that I was leaving Arsenal because I thought that the team would never win anything with him as a manager and that is absolutely false. Arsene knows it because the first thing he told me when I signed for Arsenal was that he didn't pay attention to what the press wrote, that he never reads it.

'Arsene is like a father to me and the coach that gave me the opportunity to play for Arsenal and then to sign for Barcelona, I owe him everything.'

Hleb continued: 'Cesc is my best friend at Arsenal and he knows that everything I have to say I'll say it to his face as I have always done.

'I only said that when Cesc had the ball you didn't know where he was going to put it because he is so good that he can pass it to the left or to the right and the English journalists changed that sentence into a criticism of his way of playing.'

Hleb, who would like nothing more than to link up again with Fabregas at Barcelona, believes the time the pair spent together will stand him in good stead at the Catalan giants.

Fabregas was trained at the famous Barca academy before moving to Arsenal in 2003, and Hleb claims he is better prepared to fit in at the Nou Camp having spent three years with the Spain midfielder.

'Barca's way of playing is a style that I like a lot,' added Hleb. 'I still have to adapt myself but I don't think there will be a problem. It's not a style that's completely strange to me because I have played with Fabregas the past few years.

'The manner in which Cesc plays has a stamp, an unmistakable mark that is that of Barcelona. Having played with him, it will come easier to me to play alongside Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta or Marc Crosas.

'It would be marvellous to play with Cesc at Barca. I know that he would be really excited about it because he grew up here, but at the moment he's at Arsenal, where he's a very important piece.'

One Arsenal player who could move to Barca this summer is striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

And Hleb believes his former team-mate would be a great addition to the squad.

'He's a very good player,' he said. 'He's big, has a lot of technique and is surprisingly fast for his size. He controls the ball very well. It would be fantastic if he could join us but I don't know anything about it.

'Without doubt he is one of the five best strikers in the world.'


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