Blues capture Hleb and Jiranek

The 29-year-old former Arsenal midfielder is Blues’ sixth summer

signing and the second on deadline day after they also completed a

deal for defender 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. Blues,

meanwhile, have paid an undisclosed fee for 31-year-old Czech

Republic hardman Jiranek. Birmingham boss Alex McLeish told the

club’s website: “We are short at the back with regards to defensive

cover. “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.” Jiranek, who has

31 international caps, cost Spartak £4.7million in 2004.

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,” he said. “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.” 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.