Birmingham City new signing Alexander Hleb has revealed that he turned down offers from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to join Alex McLeish's side.
Hleb moved to Barcelona from Arsenal in 2008 but spent much of his time at the Nou Camp on the bench and said the chance to player regular first team football at St Andrew's was the key factor in his decision to join Birmingham on a season-long loan.
The 29-year-old Belarus international spent last season on loan at Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga but was eager to return to the Premier League.
"There were many offers: Liverpool, Tottenham, Benfica," Hleb told Belarus newspaper Pressball. "But it was necessary to carefully consider all the options. With some we were unable to agree terms. Birmingham City apparently wanted me more than anyone else, so they were my preference.
"The decision was prompted by the fact I am well acquainted with the English championship. This is perfect right now, when I need match practice. The Premier League is the most entertaining league on the planet.
"Birmingham are a stable club and the manager, Alex McLeish, is a good professional. They are not Arsenal, who play every year in the Champions League, but for me it is important now to be playing regularly and returning to my previous level.
"To be honest, the last year and a half hasn't been what it should. But the deal with Birmingham is my chance and I must take it."
Birmingham also completed deals for Chilean star Jean Beausejour and Spartak defender Martin Jiranek before the transfer window closed.