Dutch football icon Johan Cruyff believes compatriot Rafael van der Vaart is not the player to help strugglers Hamburg avoid an historic first relegation from Germany’s top flight.
Hamburg, who are captained by Netherlands international Van der Vaart, are the only current Bundesliga side never to have been relegated and have just six games left to climb out of the bottom three.
The 31-year-old attacking midfielder has endured a torrid time having worked under three different coaches this season with Mirko Slomka currently in charge after both ex-Holland manager Bert van Marwijk and Thorsten Fink were dismissed.
With seven goals in 23 league matches this season, play-maker Van der Vaart is struggling to help Hamburg with his creative skills largely going to waste as he racks up the mileage on the pitch trying to help his team, according to Cruyff.
“He is a very good footballer, but Hamburg is a problem for him, because he has to run a lot there and that’s not his strength,” the 66-year-old Cryuff told daily newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost with Hamburg second from bottom.
“His strength is playing creative football and it’s not good that he plays in such a weak team.”
Hamburg host fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Friday badly needed points having won just two of their last 15 league games.
But Cryuff says Van der Vaart, who had stints at both Real Madrid and Tottenham Hostpur, can be a key figure for the Oranje under coach Louis van Gaal at June’s World Cup with Chile, Australia and Spain joining the Netherlands in Group B.
“Holland need Van der Vaart, he has unique skills which we can’t do without,” said Cruyff.