Tottenham have pulled off arguably the biggest coup of this summer’s transfer window by securing a last-minute deadline day deal for Dutch playmaker Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid. There is no doubt that van der Vaart is a player of great ability and will add quality to a Spurs side that is most definitely on the up.
The Dutchman enjoyed a run in the team in the second half of last season where he popped up with a number of important goals for Los Merengues. This included a last minute winner against Sevilla and an important equaliser for Real against Sporting Gijon which kept Madrid’s titles hopes alive. However, despite his impressive form, new manager Jose Mourinho has deemed the midfielder surplus to requirements at Madrid and allowed van der Vaart to leave the club and seal a move to Tottenham.
Van der Vaart has only shown glimpses of his brilliance during his time at Madrid and his career has undoubtedly suffered as a result of his move to the Bernabeu. He came through the youth ranks at Ajax along with fellow midfielder Wesley Sneijder and it was at Ajax where he earned a reputation as one of the most talented midfield players of his generation. Van der Vaart burst onto the scene as a 17 year old where he wowed the Amsterdam Arena with his outrageous ability, scoring 16 goals from midfield in only 22 appearances for the club. The next season was just as impressive as van der Vaart managed 22 goals in 28 appearances but his season was cut short by injury; something that would plague the midfielder in the years to come.
Following a dip in form, van der Vaart announced he was leaving Ajax to join Bundesliga side Hamburg. The move raised a few eyebrows considering that Hamburg at the time were not a powerhouse in German football by any means but van der Vaart was not deterred and was a huge success in Hamburg where he played arguably the best football of his career.
Unfortunately for van der Vaart, he has seen his career stagnate at Real Madrid and failed to impress in this summer’s World Cup where he was ineffective for Holland. There was once a time when van der Vaart was the darling of Dutch football but he has since been ousted in favour of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie who have taken over van der Vaart’s mantle as the new vanguard in Dutch football.
It is a shame because van der Vaart has shown throughout his career that he has phenomenal technical skill and ability and Tottenham fans must be licking their lips in anticipation at seeing the Dutchman ply his trade at White Hart Lane. The only problem for boss Harry Redknapp is where to play him?
Tottenham already possess a wealth of talent in midfield including Tom Huddlestone, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Redknapp employs a traditional 4-4-2 formation at the moment with Tom Huddlestone a deep-lying ‘quarterback’ style playmaker alongside Wilson Palacios a more defensively minded midfielder. While there is no doubt that van der Vaart can play this position and do a good job for Spurs, I don’t feel this would be his best position.
I see van der Vaart’s best position as a second support striker where he can drop in between the lines and influence play. He has great creativity and invention so this role would suit his game to a tee as he would be able create chances for the striker as well as find space for a shot for himself.
For some time, van der Vaart has been living off his reputation as the golden boy of Dutch football. By moving to Tottenham, he has found an ideal place to turn his reputation into a fully fledged reality.
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