When Harry Redknapp brought Rafael van der Vaart to White Hart Lane on transfer deadline day, it was not a move that was greeted with universal praise. Although the fee Spurs had paid was pleasing, many fans believed that the club simply did not need him, due to the plethora of midfield talent already available to Redknapp, in particular Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar who were seen as similar players to the Dutchman. However, Van der Vaart’s performances so far have more than justified the decision to buy the him, and confirmed Harry Redknapp as one of the shrewdest operators in the transfer market.
Rafael van der Vaart’s career bloomed early. A graduate of the famous Ajax academy, Van der Vaart became a regular for the Dutch giants as a teenager, and picked up his first full international cap at the tender age of 18. He was seen as one the hottest prospects in European football but his career drifted somewhat, and when he moved to German outfit Hamburg it came as a surprise. Van der Vaart was excellent for his new club and when Real Madrid came calling, you got the feeling that he had finally got the move that his talent warranted. However, his time at the Bernabeu proved frustrating, as he was unable to hold down a place in the first team, with the signing of Mesut Ozil and Angel di Maria this summer, it was clear the Dutchman’s time was up.
It looked like Tottenham and Harry Redknapp were going to endure a disappointing transfer window, but when the call came that Van der Vaart’s proposed move to Bayern Munich had collapsed the night before, and that he was available for half of the price the German club were willing to pay, Redknapp wasted no time in making the deal happen. As much as he might hate it, Harry Redknapp has the tag of a master ‘wheeler-dealer’ and it is this kind of transfer that have earned him that title.
A few years ago Spurs fans would have been in euphoria at the prospect of a player like Van der Vaart joining them, yet the reception that greeted his signing was decidedly muted. Many believed that it was not an area Redknapp needed to be strengthening. For me though, Van der Vaart’s quality is such that there was never any doubt in my mind that it would prove to be a fantastic deal.
The Dutchman’s performances so far have been nothing short of brilliant. He has settled in well and already looks like one of the most dangerous midfielders in the league, some of the balls he has put in to the box, as he did this weekend against Wolves, have been world class. Van der Vaart is a hugely talented player who would not look out of depth for any team in the world, and for Redknapp to sign him for such a small price is a major coup.
When you consider that £25 million was spent on James Milner this summer, Spurs’ deadline day signing must go down as one of the best deals of the window. He adds quality to Tottenham, and that is what they need in an increasingly competitive league if they wish to be challenging at the top table again this season.