Alexander Hleb yesterday tried to play down suggestions of a rift with Arsène Wenger and his team-mate Cesc Fabregas but still made no secret of his desire to leave Arsenal.
Asked whether his view of how he should play matched that of the Arsenal manager, Hleb is reported to have said: "It didn't coincide at all." And of Fabregas, he had implied that the Spaniard did not pass to him enough. "With scoring opportunities he's more selfish than I am," Hleb apparently said. "Given the chance to shoot he always goes for it – unlike me."
However, yesterday the Belarus international, who has been linked with a move away from Emirates since the end of the season, was attempting to be more tactful, whilst reiterating his desire for a move. "I am very grateful to Arsène Wenger," he said. "He is the best coach of my career. And not just a coach. He is a very good man and intuitive psychologist. I very much appreciate his support. I talked to him twice before the end of the season [about my future]. It is also not that easy for me to leave this club, because it has become my home. I think he is upset, though it is better to ask him, maybe he is glad.
"In life, everything changes," Hleb added. "I believe that there are 10 top clubs in world football and when a couple of clubs are interested in you and offer better terms, I believe that others would have done exactly the same. But Arsenal is dear to me, I am grateful to Wenger for everything he has done for me. As an Arsenal player, I can say that there is no better club in the English Premiership."
Internazionale, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have all been mentioned alongside the favourites Barcelona in the fight for Hleb's signature.
The 27-year-old also sought to clarify his relationship with Fabregas, insisting the pair get on well. "Cesc and I understand each other very well on the field," he said. "And it is very, very pleasurable for me to play with him. He's a very pleasant guy both in life and as a footballer. He is just more egoistic in goalscoring opportunities, if he had a chance to score, he always used it, unlike me."
Although the chances of retaining Hleb's services look bleak for Arsenal, the likelihood of their striker Emmanuel Adebayor leaving for Milan looks to be receding as the two clubs have failed to agree a fee. The 24-year-old is one of the main targets of the Rossoneri, along with Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o, but the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliani, says the Italians are unwilling to match what Arsenal are demanding for the Togo international, thought to be around £36m.
Ajax, meanwhile, say they have heard nothing from Arsenal concerning a bid for their striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has been linked with a move to the Emirates, as well as to Manchester United.