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Rafael Van der Vaart Signs with Spurs

Well, that came out of left field.

Real Madrid were apparently so desperate to get rid of Van der Vaart that they were willing to take £8m for him, or roughly 2/3 of what they paid for him in the first place. Supposedly, an £18m transfer for Bayern Munich had fallen through the day before deadline day, and as a result, VdV was available for a discount price. Despite not needing him, Harry Redknapp couldn't resist getting a player of his quality for such a cheap price.

And really, Van der Vaart was cheap by just about anyone's standards. He played 26 games for Real Madrid last season, scoring 6 goals and tallying 7 assists. He started in the World Cup and made 5 total appearances for the tournament runners-up. The midfielder has 16 goals in 83 international appearances and 92 goals in 249 top flight league appearances for Ajax, Hamburg SV, and Real Madrid.

So, Spurs fans might be wondering how Van der Vaart fits into Spurs' regular setup. Truth be told...he doesn't. Van der Vaart is used to playing higher up the pitch than Spurs' central midfielders ever do. While he's competent as a winger, he's not good enough in that role to displace Bale or Lennon.

There are a few possibilities for fitting Rafael Van der Vaart into a Spurs' starting lineup. Let's give them a look:

1. He comes in for Ekotto. Bale shifts to left back and either Van der Vaart or Modric plays on the left with the other playing in the center. Against better teams with lots of attacking threats through the middle, VdV could play on the left with two of Sandro, Huddlestone, and Palacios in the middle.

2. We play only one of Huddlestone, Palacios, and Sandro, let VdV play the way he likes to play, and ask the defensive midfielder to do a lot of work. This is a role that does not suit the talented and intelligent, yet large and lead-footed Tom Huddlestone at all. The best man for this role is Palacios. Playing this way would be a really bad idea in Champions League. It could potentially be super effective against teams like Blackburn, Sunderland, Birmingham, and Stoke who do not have central midfielders who can pass or dribble worth a damn (slight exception for Riveros, there).

3. We *gasp* experiment with different tactics. We know it's not Harry's thing, but with Pavlyuchenko, Van der Vaart, and Sandro, we now have three players that are absolutely tailor made for the 4-2-3-1 setup that everyone and their mom is using these days. This setup is unlikely to have massive effects, positive or negative, on Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Giovani dos Santos, Niko Kranjcar, Tom Huddlestone, or Wilson Palacios. Obviously, this formation renders Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe irrelevant or ineffective, most likely. Luka Modric is a bit of a wild card, as he could play as an attacking central midfielder, central midfielder, or on the left wing. His role would likely either be as a player who is thrown into one of those roles due to a specific matchup against an opponent or as a super sub.

So, if you were thinking that Rafael Van der Vaart was going to be plug and play somewhere, you were mistaken. How Redknapp uses VdV might reveal a lot about him as a manager. If he can't make slight tactical adjustments to find room for a player of VdV's quality, he truly is a rockhead. If he throws VdV into Spurs' current setup with no adjustments and hopes it just works, he's an even bigger rockhead. How VdV is utilized will go a long way towards whether or not Spurs reach their ambitions. Let's just hope that he is used properly.