Rafael van der Vaart may head back to Hamburg after Schalke rejection

• Schalke CEO calls a halt to transfer negotiations
• Van der Vaart played for Hamburg between 2005-2008

Rafael van der Vaart has seen his summer transfer options dwindle after Schalke announced that they no longer want him. Tottenham Hotspur are open to offers for the Holland attacking midfielder, who does not appear to fit into the plans of the new manager André Villas-Boas and he has been heavily linked with a move to Germany.

The Schalke manager, Huub Stevens, said last month that he would like to sign Van der Vaart and the club, who can offer Champions League football and have money to spend, were considered as his likeliest destination. But the Schalke CEO, Clemens Tönnies, has called a halt to the negotiations, insisting that the matter is closed, to leave Hamburg, Van der Vaart's old club, in the running for his signature. Frank Arnesen, the Hamburg sporting director, who held the same post at Tottenham, has made little secret of his wish to sign the 29-year-old.

"If we had really wanted to have him [Van der Vaart], then we would have got him," Tönnies said. "But it didn't make any sense because we were miles apart. The topic is over."

The Schalke general manager, Horst Heldt, added: "Van der Vaart has very high quality but despite this, he does not fit our requirements on a number of levels."

If Schalke cannot make the sums work for Van der Vaart, then it would seem an even taller order for Hamburg, where money is tight and Arnesen has been charged with making the squad younger, leaner and cheaper. Van der Vaart, who joined Tottenham from Real Madrid for £8m in 2010, has two years to run on his contract, which is worth a basic £70,000-a-week plus bonuses.

The Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, very rarely accepts a loss when sanctioning a player sale but Hamburg remain hopeful, partly because, in Klaus-Michael Kühne, they have a third party investor who can help them to sign players. Arnesen also clings to the belief that Tottenham could accept a cut-price offer to remove Van der Vaart's salary from their books. "We are waiting for a signal from Tottenham," Arnesen said.

Van der Vaart's signing would be well received by the Hamburg fans – he was a cult hero with them during his spell at the club between 2005 and 2008 – and it would also have a family benefit. Van der Vaart's wife, Sylvie, does a lot of television work in Germany and she regularly has to travel to and from London.

Villas-Boas will address the media for the first time in his new post on Wednesday lunchtime and he can be expected to make the right noises about Van der Vaart, who he admires for his skill and creative ability. But he has overseen the £8m signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim, who caught the eye on loan at Swansea City last season in an attacking midfield role, which is where Van der Vaart likes to play. Sigurdsson is also noted for his willingness to track back, unlike Van der Vaart, and he would seem a better tactical fit in Villas-Boas's preferred 4-3-3 formation.


David Hytner

The GuardianTramp

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