Hleb joins Birmingham on loan

Birmingham have signed former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb on a season-long loan deal.

The 29-year-old is Blues' sixth summer signing and the second on deadline day after they also completed a deal for defender Martin Jiranek this afternoon.

Hleb made 89 appearances for Arsenal before leaving the club to join Barcelona two years ago.

The Belarus international has struggled for first-team football in Catalonia, however, and was also farmed out on a season-long loan the German side Stuttgart last season.

Manager Alex McLeish described Hleb's arrival as a "major signing", less than a week after they missed out on securing the services of Wigan winger Charles N'Zogbia.

"Hleb is a top quality player - one who at one stage we'd only actually dreamed about really," McLeish told the club's official website www.bcfc.com.

"Over the past year or so we have talked about him but with no real belief we could get him.

"We decided to give it a try and towards the end of the window we found out it might be possible.

"This is a major signing for us and we are very happy to have him here.

"He is an extremely creative type who is skilful, a great dribbler and has an excellent touch and great feet.

"He has huge international experience and great pedigree due to playing for such clubs as Stuttgart, Arsenal and Barcelona.

"As with all the players we have brought to the club in recent times I'd like to thank the board for their support in making them happen."

Hleb joins fellow new name Jiranek who joins from Russian club Spartak Moscow for an undisclosed fee.

The Czech, who has 31 international caps, is expected to be unveiled before Hleb, who is away on international duty with Belarus.

"We are short at the back with regards to defensive cover," McLeish said of 31-year-old Jiranek.

"Jiranek has tremendous experience on club, European and international fronts.

"He is a good presence and his arrival will keep Roger Johnson and Scott Dann on their toes."

The duo join fellow summer signings Ben Foster, Nikola Zigic, Matt Derbyshire and Eric Valles as Birmingham look to improve on their ninth-place finish last term.

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