£11.9m former Arsenal star signs for obscure Turkish outfit

Aleksandr Hleb has signed for Konyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig.

When Arsenal scooped deep in their pockets to snap up Aleksandr Hleb from VfB Stuttgart in June 2005 nobody expected him to go on and have such an impressive impact at the club.

The £11.9 million signing proved to be a dynamic playmaker and consistently showed off his technical wizardry, dribbling ability and scything passing aptitude during his three years in North London - and that is why so many fans were thoroughly disappointed when he left in 2008.

He joined Barcelona, a move he now admits regretting, and has struggled ever since.

He has played for Stuttgart, Birmingham City, Wolfsburg, Kyrlia Sovetov and most recently BATE Borisov in his Belarussian homeland.

However his contract expired this month - and he is now a free agent.

He recently put himself in the shop window with an eye-catching performance for Belarus against Turkey - and it seems one team was taking notice.

Not surprisingly it is a Turkish side that has snapped him up - as Hleb has joined up with Konyaspor.

The obscure outfit were promoted to the Turkish top-flight last season and currently sit in 13th position in the league table. In terms of famous names you might recognise already in the squad it is a struggle. Former Liverpool keeper Charles Itandje is currently on loan at the club while one-time Reading striker Gunnar Thorvaldsson is also at the club.

Hleb has been speaking about the move, stating:

"I'm very happy that I'm here. Turkey is known for its fanatical supporters. I think this [reception] is a nice gesture and I hope to be of value to Konyaspor."

Hleb’s career has certainly never reached the heights it would have if he had perhaps remained at Arsenal. But at the age of 32 he has now become the biggest signing in this little clubs history - and over the next 18 months he will be charged with pushing the side up the Turkish table and establishing themselves as a top-flight outfit.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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