Arsenal

Utd And Arsenal Square Up For Real’s Dutchman

As one of the more recognisable names in European football, it is a surprise that Rafael van der Vaart is still only 27 years old, such is the period of time he seems to have been in the game.

Born in Heemskerk, the Netherlands, Van der Vaart joined the famous Ajax Academy at the age of 10 and made his senior debut in 2000, aged 17. He was voted as European Talent of the Year by Italian magazine CalcioManager. As an attacking midfielder, Van der Vaart’s record of 42 goals in 117 appearances for Ajax was a tremendous achievement.

In 2005, the Dutchman moved to Hamburg, a transfer that surprised many given the number of other top clubs that had been interested in acquiring his services. He continued to add to his impressive goal scoring statistics in Germany until his move to Real Madrid in 2008.

His career at the Bernabeu has certainly fluctuated between success and disappointment. It all started well for him, scoring on his league debut and followed that with his first career hat trick just weeks later. Towards the end of Juande Ramos’s reign as manager however he came to used more as a substitute and rumours linking him with the top clubs in England began to appear.

Last summer, Van der Vaart was not even given a squad number for the upcoming season and told he was no longer part of new Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini’s plans. With the departures of fellow Dutchmen Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Klaas Jan Huntelaar however, came a new lease of life for Van der Vaart’s career in Madrid. He went on to score some crucial goals for the club in their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to catch Barcelona in the La Liga title race. Van der Vaart’s efforts at least ensured that the championship was taken to the wire.

The Dutchman’s international career began in 2001, aged 18 against Andorra and he has since featured in the last three major international tournaments. As a result of injury and management decisions however, Van der Vaart has not enjoyed much personal success in any of them. After making a crucial contribution in the Netherland’s World Cup qualifying campaign however, Van der Vaart has been named in the preliminary squad for South Africa. He appears to be a certainty to make the final squad.

Already this summer there are rumours Van der Vaart has already held talks with Liverpool over a move, as well as the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal. It would appear that a move is highly likely, given the events of last summer and the incoming reinforcements Real Madrid are likely to make before next season. Van der Vaart would certainly prove to be a good signing for any of the clubs mentioned, a player that would fit in well in the Premier League and certainly possessing the quality. After recent troubles with both his country and his club, this may just be his time to shine.

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