KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sporting Kansas City are confident of their ability to land Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, even if they have to wait until the Hamburger SV captain's contract runs out at the end of the current Bundesliga season.
“If we can get that done, we'd like to get it done,” Sporting CEO Robb Heineman said. “He'd be a July move – maybe earlier. I don't know if Hamburg would let him out early. There's a lot of things to work out with him.”
Sporting have the funds to make the deal happen, said Heineman, who traveled to Germany to meet with the Dutchman last weekend.
“It isn't a money issue. It's more around some family things,” Heineman added. “He's got a son in Hamburg, obviously, and he's got a father who travels to a lot of his games, and so we've got to accommodate some of those things.
“So if we can work those things out, we'll have him.”
The 32-year-old van der Vaart, whose resume also includes stints with AFC Ajax, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur, was a part of the Netherlands' run to the title match – a 1-0 loss to Spain in extra time – of the 2010 World Cup. A veteran of three European Championship finals as well, van der Vaart missed last summer's World Cup due to a calf injury but has made more than 100 appearances for the Netherlands.
Adding him would give Sporting a scoring threat from distance, and his passing ability and skill with both feet would fit in with manager Peter Vermes' desire to bring in players who can fill multiple roles.
“I think Peter would like to see him in a much more advanced position as an attacker,” Heineman said. “I think the way that they're playing in Hamburg right now doesn't really utilize his skills in the best way, and I think he'd kind of like to get back to being that kind of a player. But I think what you've seen us do in the offseason is create a lot of versatility in this team. We can move a lot of guys around. We can play a lot of different formations. And I think we'll probably be a little more open than we were last year.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.