Seldom has a player been linked with a move to the Premier League more than the Dutch international, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Nicknamed ‘The Hunter’ for his predatory goal-scoring instincts, he has now been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur. The former Ajax player may be warming to the prospect of a move to England as his previous big money moves to Real Madrid and AC Milan received muted responses from their fans. Having endured a difficult period at Madrid and seen his opportunities diminish at the San Siro, would it be wise for Harry Redknapp to take a gamble on a player who once scored 33 league goals in a season for Ajax?
After representing a number of Dutch sides, Huntelaar made the switch to his boyhood club Ajax in 2006. It was here where his reputation grew from that of exciting young prospect to a prodigious and prolific forward. His goal-scoring record at Ajax drew comparisons with club legend Marco van Basten. He ended his time there with an astonishing return of 105 goals in 128 appearances. His displays enticed the attentions of United and Arsenal but it was Real Madrid who secured his signature for a fee of £20 million. His arrival at the Bernabeu was not greeted with widespread enthusiasm from the fans. The Dutchman did not embody the start of a new generation of galacticos who would drive the club to European glory once more. A return of eight goals in twenty games, all in the latter half of the 2009 season was far from disastrous. Yet in their summer pursuit of Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema et al his place in the Madrid squad could not be salvaged.
Huntelaar made the move from one glamorous, decorated European side to another in summer 2009 as he sealed a 15 million euro switch to AC Milan. He made a sluggish start to his career with the Rossoneri, making his first appearance as a substitute in the Milan derby which his side embarrassingly lost 4-0. Milan’s languid start to last season was emblematic of his too. He finally captured the eye by coming off the bench to score a late brace in a tight away match against Catania to give Milan an important win. His second goal was an exquisite chipped shot from the edge of the box showing his deft finishing ability and composure. It was a finish few strikers are capable of but this match winning performance did not propel him into Leonardo’s starting XI. He continued to acquire more critics than he did goals. His manager clearly preferred to play with one forward and invariably opted for Borriello and even the perennially off-side Inzaghi over Huntelaar. Leonardo had little faith in his ability to perform as a lone striker or link up with another centre forward by drifting out wide. His main attribute is that of predator in the box, able to pounce at the slightest of chances. Whilst imploring the new Milan coach to play with two forwards next season, the club president Silvio Berlusconi said he could not rule out the transfer of Huntelaar.
Could Harry Redknapp revive the fortunes of this forward and give Tottenham an extra dimension next season? A lack of attacking options is not a problem for Spurs but with continued speculation over Keane’s future and the desire to make a special signing, Huntelaar could fit the bill. He has recent Champions League experience and with the support of Bale, Lennon and Modric ample chances would be created for him. In the current climate a big money gamble on the Dutchman may be too much of a risk. Harry Redknapp will have to wheel and deal before ‘The Hunter’ can grace White Hart Lane.