Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart has stated that he would like to end his career in Italy.
The 31-year-old, who has one year left on his current contract, has admitted that he would only consider a move to Italy if Hamburg refuse to give the Dutch international a new deal. Since re-signing for the Red and White shorts from Tottenham in August 2012, the midfielder has failed to live up to his hefty £10 price-tag.
Despite scoring a reasonable 14 goals in 62 appearances for Hamburg in every competition, the Dutchman has failed in his role as captain. His failure as captain was epitomised last season when a ill-fated Hamburg team were on the verge of suffering their first ever relegation from the Bundesliga.
Although the North-German outfit emerged as victors in a fiercely contested relegation tie with second division outfit, Greuther Fϋrth, Van der Vaart is no longer in the club’s future plans. Despite voicing his admiration to stay at Hamburg for the long-haul, the club’s hierarchy are desperate to offload the Dutchman who is reportedly earning €50,000 in wages every week.
The former Real Madrid midfielder seems to have taken the hint that he is no longer required at Hamburg, by showing his admiration for the Italian game in order to attract interest from keen parties.
The 31-year-old told German newspaper Bild.de: “As long as Hamburg want me I will continue to play here. Otherwise Italy is my preferred destination, then I would have then played in every major European division.
That would be amazing. Italy is an amazing country with equally amazing cities. As a footballer you can play longer there. Players are in good hands. Players such as (Francesco) Totti and (Andrea) Pirlo are my role models.”
Van der Vaart has also stated that another pleasing allure that the Italian game offers is that Serie A might grant him the right to play until his preferred retirement age of 38.
The former Ajax midfielder was full of emotion when he told reporters that he would like to play football for as long as his body would allow him to.
The Dutchman also stated that he would be prepared to play in the lower divisions of professional football, if it guaranteed him regular football.
Van der Vaart went on to say: “I want to continue playing until I am 38. It is my dream job. As long as I am fit and I bring favourable results, I want to be involved in football. I am also prepared to do this in the second league.”
No return home
One possibility which the out of character midfielder has turned down is a return to boyhood team, Ajax.
The 31 year old experienced 13 joyous years at Ajax, by winning two Dutch championships and one KNVB title during his time at the club.
Although the Dutch Champions have already expressed their interest in re-signing a member of their iconic golden generation, Van der Vaart has already poured cold water on speculation despite admitting his admiration for current manager, Frank de Boer.
The 31 year old said: “He is a fantastic manager and a fantastic person, however I don’t think that I will go back there.”