Dutch international playmaker Rafael van der Vaart has confirmed he will leave Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV this summer when his contract runs out and has left the door wide-open for a move to Major League Soccer.
[ RELATED: Van der Vaart to SKC? ]
Van der Vaart, 32, has already had discussions with Sporting Kansas City about a move to MLS, as their CEO Rob Heinemann revealed that productive talks occurred during the offseason with the former Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax star reportedly offered a $4.8 million per year deal.
When asked about his next possible destination after this season, Van der Vaart was keen to focus on the final eight Bundesliga matches of the season as Hamburg aim to get out of the bottom three and avoid relegation to Germany’s second-flight. However, he did answer a question about moving to MLS.
“Everything’s open at the moment, but I can imagine playing in America,” Van der Vaart said. “I want to keep playing at a good level for a few years.”
Would Van der Vaart bring star power to MLS? Absolutely.
He has played in a World Cup final for the Netherlands, has 109 caps for the Oranje and oozes class on the ball and from set-piece situations. He would arrive in KC as a Designated Player and would undoubtedly be the main man in Peter Vermes’ side. Where would his possible arrival rank in the echelons of big-name DPs in MLS? Easily inside the top 10.
His style would suit Sporting KC and with the likes of Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber eager to get on the ball, adding Van der Vaart to the mix could make SKC one of the most attractive teams to watch in MLS. But would his arrival impact Zusi’s influence on SKC? Let’s wait and see if the transfer actually happens before we weight all of that up.
Having world-class midfielders such as Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Frank Lampard and potentially van der Vaart playing in MLS this summer would be incredible to witness.
Upon joining the Designated Player-loaded and cash-flush Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City are looking to make a splash of their own. The Major League Soccer side has reportedly offered 32-year-old Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart a deal worth $4.8 million per year, according to a report in German newspaper Bild (story in German).
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Van der Vaart, who is in the final year of his contract at Hamburg, would be available to sign on a free transfer at the conclusion of the current European season.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman confirmed last week he was heading to Germany to see Van der Vaart play and reportedly speak with the player and his representatives, so there’s certainly truth in Sporting’s pursuit of Van der Vaart. Bundesliga journalist Daniel Busch reported on Monday that Sporting club officials indeed met with Van der Vaart and his father.
[ RELATED: Orlando City using Kaka to lure Mario Balotelli to MLS ]
Van der Vaart is unlikely to garner an offer matching Sporting’s financial package, so it will now be up to the player to decide whether he is ready to move across the Atlantic and begin his own MLS adventure, the way European stars like Robbie Keane, Kaka, Frank Lampard, David Villa and Steven Gerrard have done in the last few years.
Adding Van der Vaart to a side that already boasts the likes of Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber in midfield, and 22-goalscorer Dom Dwyer leading the line, would seem to make Sporting a serious player in the West, assuming Peter Vermes can find the right midfield balance and doesn’t expect the oft-injured and infrequent-workman Van der Vaart to achieve similar levels of “Sporting fit” to that of his new teammates.
31-year-old Dutch winger Rafael Van der Vaart spent two years in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur, and now QPR boss Harry Redknapp is hoping to bring him back.
Redknapp confirmed to English outlet GetWestLondon.co.uk that he is looking to add Van der Vaart to his defense for Rangers’ first season back in the top flight.
“I like Rafa. He’s a great footballer and good professional,” Redknapp said. “He’s a goalscorer and will get you 10 or 12 a year in that position. He’s an interesting player for sure, he’s class. We’ve made some enquiries for a few players but we’ve got to wait to see what comes up.”
Redknapp was the Spurs manager when the club bought van der Vaart in 2010 from Real Madrid, where the Dutchman spent just one season.
Van der Vaart was then sold to German club Hamburg just over a month after Redknapp left Spurs in 2012, reportedly earning the London side a $4 million profit in the process.
He was part of a Hamburg team that narrowly avoided its first-ever relegation from the Bundesliga this season, earning its stay thanks to an away goals advantage on a playoff.
Redknapp also told the site he is hoping to pursue Dynamo Kiev winger Niko Kranjcar on a permanent basis after the Croatian helped QPR earn promotion on loan last year.
The Netherlands provisional roster is down to 29, thanks to an injury to Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.
That makes two high-profile midfielders down for the count, as Kevin Strootman was lost for the tournament during AS Roma’s season.
MORE: Soccerly – Van der Vaart to miss World Cup
The 31-year-old attacker hurt his calf during training for Louis van Gaal’s unit, and will not participate in the 2014 World Cup.
The two-time vice captain did not score in his previous World Cups, 2006 and 2010, and was hoping to rectify that in Brazil.
Here are the remaining midfielders currently in Dutch camp: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven).
Van der Vaart is in his second stint with Hamburg after spending time at Tottenham, Ajax and Real Madrid. He has 25 goals for country in 109 caps.
Hamburg welcomes back a prodigal son, with a former captain returning to the Imtech Arena after sowing oats in Madrid and London. For Rafael van der Vaart, the return to an adoring fan base helps soften the blow of losing his place at post-Redknapp Tottenham.
Who is this guy: From 2005 until fall 2008, Rafael van der Vaart was the key to Hamburg teams that third, seventh, fourth (since they’ve finished fifth, seventh, eight and 15th). At Real Madrid, van der Vaart never made an impact, though he was a huge success in his first year at Spurs, adapting to a behind-the-striker role supporting Peter Crouch. Last year, van der Vaart’s influence waned, and with the change of approach being implemented by André Villas-Boas, van der Vaart was no longer a good fit in North London.
What does he do: Van der Vaart is an above-average attacking midfielder who can both contribute and create goals, scoring 11 times while accuring 5 assists in last year’s Premier League. Not particularly fast, hard working, or tactically aware in defense, van der Vaart is a good fit for a team with personnel and goals that will allow him to be an attack-only defender. At Real Madrid, that combination was a poor fit, while at Tottenham, van der Vaart was able to adapt.
How much did he cost: Ten million pounds ($15.8 million). That’s more than Spurs paid for him, but not as much as chief executive Daniel Levy wanted.
How does he fit: Well, both in terms of on field and intangible contributions. Hamburg just finished a miserable season in which they amazingly battled relegation. This season didn’t look much better until they acquired van der Vaart, who should give HSV a big boost.
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