Aleksandr Hleb is delighted to be part of a "united squad" at FC Barcelona as they race towards the Spanish title, but after being used sparingly, the Belarussian told uefa.com he would fight for a starting berth at Camp Nou.
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Aleksandr Hleb is delighted to be part of a "united squad" at FC Barcelona as they race towards the Spanish title, but after being used sparingly by Josep Guardiola, the Belarussian midfielder told uefa.com that he would fight for a starting role at Camp Nou.
Having left Arsenal FC for Barça last summer, the 27-year-old has been part of a side which has been unstoppable under new coach Guardiola this season, reaching the halfway stage in the Spanish title race with a record 50 points. Now 12 points clear of champions Real Madrid CF, it looks likely that Hleb's first season in Spain will end with a title.
"The team was strong last year but suffered from a lack of unity," Hleb told uefa.com. "We have new players and a new coach, who have added brightness to the team's play. Moreover, there are no discipline problems, on the pitch or off it. We are a united squad which thinks only of winning."
With the help of English-speaking team-mates like Thierry Henry and Eidur Gudjohnsen, Hleb has settled in Barcelona, and is learning Spanish. "I need it mostly in everyday life because we have an international language on the pitch," he said, adding: "Everything is great and I am happy in Spain, but in terms of football the process of adapting goes on."
Capped 45 times by Belarus, Hleb has played in 12 of Barça's 21 league games this season, but has only started in four of them. "Of course I want more time on the pitch," he admitted. "I will fight for a place in the starting XI until the end of the season. We will see what might happen in the summer if I am unsuccessful, but I do not want to sit on the bench."
Meanwhile, Hleb was delighted to see that his old side signed Andrei Arshavin this week, saying: "I'm sure he will be a success at Arsenal because I know what you can do when the coach trusts you. I know Andrei well and also the style of the team, which makes me believe that he will enjoy his time at Arsenal." Hleb has lost touch with Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger but is eager to remedy that. "We parted on polite terms – we shook hands and wished each other good luck – but I want to call him. He taught me more than anyone and I'm so grateful to him."