Speculation has been mounting of late as to whether Rafael van der Vaart will move away from White Hart Lane. The player has been increasingly linked with a move to the UAE and a potential return to Hamburg. Recent comments from both the player and the manager indicate he will “probably” stay (although this remains to be seen), but would Spurs miss him if he left?
How good is he?
Below is a comparison of van der Vaart’s statistics and similar Premier League players:
|Apps||Goals||Assists||Passes||Pass Acc.||Dribbles||Key Passes|
|V. Der Vaart||28(5)||11||7||49.1||88%||0.2||2.3|
Van der Vaart has been compared to Sigurdsson as he is his new club-mate at Spurs. Suarez was used as he plays a similar role off a main striker (although has been used as the main striker several times), Mata and Nasri were selected as both are playmakers like van der Vaart who can play out wide as well as centrally.
The statistics demonstrate van der Vaart’s technical ability with a good number of passes for an advanced player as well as the second highest accuracy just below Nasri. Further to this his key passes per game also demonstrate his willingness to try and create chances. The low number of dribbles on the other hand represent the main issue with VDV, he is not the most mobile player and thus doesn’t like running with the ball or at defenders which is problematic when Spurs shift him out wide as he doesn’t have the pace to beat full-backs but wants to come inside where he can influence affairs. This too is the same for Nasri and Mata but their superior mobility has allowed them to adapt their game somewhat.
Sigurdsson’s statistics are very good with the best goals to game ratio out of any of the above. This is significant as Spurs will miss VDV the most in terms of his goal scoring contribution, all four of their other central midfielders contributed only four goals between them, all scored by Modric and thus VDV is their main threat from deep.
Will Spurs miss him?
As stated, one major impact his sale would have is that Spurs will lose one of their key goal scoring threats. VDV was joint top goal scorer in the league for Spurs with 11 goals and that cannot be easily replaced. The goal scoring burden can however be picked up by Sigurdsson, who as stated had a better goals per game ratio than VDV based on last season’s stats. As well as this other players do contribute goals for Spurs such as Bale who scored 9 goals whilst Defoe and Adebayor were joint top scorers with VDV scoring 11.
In a creative capacity VDV also contributes massively due to his aforementioned technical ability which is evidenced by his 7 assists. However Spurs have creativity in abundance from Modric, Bale, Lennon and at times even Parker. Of course his ability to create something out of nothing will be missed but Modric had a higher number of key passes per game and Bale the same. Spurs are not a side short in attacking quality or creativity and thus this will not be massively missed. Of course it is possible that Modric may move on but then Spurs may look to bring in another deeper lying playmaker such as Moutinho who himself completed an average of 66.2 passes per game with 2.7 key passes per game also, demonstrating his creative ability.
There is an argument that VDV is a luxury player, especially in a side that is already blessed with a significant degree of technical ability and creative flair. VDV is not the most mobile player and it is also widely reported that his favoured role of the classic number 10 is in decline somewhat. The lack of mobility of players like VDV and Riquelme for example has led to their decline in use with wide players often being the main creative forces for their team such as with Mata or Silva who were the 2nd and 1st assisters in the Premier League respectively.
VDV’s role is thus somewhat precarious with Spurs seeming to accommodate him as a second striker/AMC where at times he can go missing, despite his obvious quality. His influence on games can certainly be very good but at times he does struggle to influence proceedings, especially when he is not on the ball. Further to this, accommodating him in the side also led to Redknapp playing him wide on the right (he featured there 9 times in the league), a place that did not suit him due to the above factors. As a result he tactically unsettled the team by looking to come inside, rather than hugging the touchline and stretching the play as Aaron Lennon would do. As a result of this he is not a centre midfielder which means he cannot function in a 4-4-2 and must be accommodated in a 4-4-1-1 that Spurs used on several occasions.
This is compounded by his relative lack of fitness and allegations that he is lightweight of the 28 starts he made this season he only completed six games which is not good enough for a top Premier League player and signifies that he is perhaps not the most reliable player to have around.
AVB would likely use a 4-3-3 or variation of this which some might say could suit VDV but I’d argue otherwise. AVB favours a high pressing game something that a player short of fitness such as VDV would not thrive on, he likes to be on the ball, not chasing it. As a result he wants to play higher up the pitch whereas AVB would probably play three compact midfielders which Sigurdsson, Parker and Modric (or Moutinho if signed) would do more adequately due to their experience playing as natural centre-midfielders. In this case we may see Bale and Lennon be pushed higher up the field and getting closer to whoever is leading the line. VDV arguably doesn’t fit into this as his inclusion would require the side to change to a 4-2-3-1 which would be less compact and less equipped to press successfully.
Van der Vaart is clearly a very good player and Spurs would miss that creative spark he brings as well as his goal scoring abilities. VDV is somewhat of a dying breed, the last of the number 10s and it would be a shame to see him move on, but arguably he does require the side to accommodate him which AVB will probably not be willing to do.
Were he to move on Spurs would be able to compensate for his loss with the signing of Sigurdsson who will provide goals as well as more tactical discipline in the centre of midfield being able to play in a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2. As well as this Spurs have enough creativity in their squad to manage without VDV. However, he is certainly a good player to have around due to his ability to create chances and score goals and whilst Spurs are adequately covered if he does move on, he’d certainly be a viable option if he does stay.
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Stats are as always from whoscored.com