Liverpool boosted in chase for Madrid star

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Liverpool have been boosted in the chase to sign Real Madrid attacking midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart.

The 27-year-old playmaker is one of a handful of players who have been told they can leave the Bernabeu as they look to 'lighten the squad', and new Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has been linked with a move for the player.

Van der Vaart shot to prominence during his time at Dutch giants Ajax, making his debut in 2000 and scoring close to a goal every other game from midfield in the Eredivisie over five years (52 goals from 117 appearances).

A €5.5 million move to Hamburg raised eyebrows in 2005, but the Dutchman shone for the Bundesliga side and became skipper in his second season with the club. In 2008, a number of clubs were linked with the player but Real Madrid secured his services for €13 million.

The La Liga giants have strengthened their squad again this summer, leaving Van der Vaart with a tough choice following fewer appearances last term compared to his first season in Spain.

Opportunities are likely to be few and far between following the acquisition of Mesut Ozil, and comments from Madrid's general manager has alerted the Reds. Spurs and Arsenal are also thought to be keen, as well as some of the top clubs around Europe.

“We have 26 players right now, so we need to lighten the squad and it will happen in the coming days," Real's general manager told Marca.

“This position does not affect the Spanish players currently on our books.”

Rafael Benitez was originally linked with a move for the player last summer, and Roy Hodgson is thought to be following in the Spaniard's footsteps with his interest in the player.

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