Clearly frustrated by a lack of playing time at Tottenham, midfielder Lewis Holtby wanted out in January. He got his wish, joining Fulham on loan last winter.
Now Holtby will be making another loan move this year, as he moved to Hamburg on a season-long loan.
BBC Sport reported the move, noting that Hamburg has an option to buy at season's end:
Tottenham also confirmed the move on its Twitter account:
Holtby had made himself a key contributor for Schalke by the 2011-12 campaign, and in the one-in-a-half seasons before he joined Spurs in January 2013, he made 46 Bundesliga appearances, scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists.
Previously, he made a big impact on loan with Mainz, appearing in 30 Bundesliga games, scoring four goals and adding eight assists in the 2010-11 season. And on the international level, he not only rose to the honor of being named the captain for the Germany Under-21 side, but also was capped for the senior side.
For a country as deep and talented as Germany, that is no small feat. But Holtby found playing time at Tottenham harder to come by, to the point where last January, he clearly wanted to leave the club.
It got to the point to where his agent, Marcus Noack, publicly came out and said in Bild (per the Press Association, via The Guardian), "Lewis is desperate to play, which is why we are looking intensively for solutions." Ultimately, he was loaned to Fulham, where he started 11 games and made 13 total appearances, scoring a goal and adding three assists.
That earned him a solid 6.97 average match rating from WhoScored.com for his spell with Fulham.
Surely, there was plenty of competition at Tottenham in the midfield. Holtby was in direct competition with players like Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and even Mousa Dembele, so regular playing time was far from guaranteed.
Still, many fans and pundits will be quite disappointed with Holtby's departure, as his potential is obvious when he in fact does play. ESPN FC's Dan Fitch wrote before Holtby's loan why he preferred the club stuck with the German midfielder, an analysis that still holds true:
Holtby plays as if he actually cares what the end result will be, which sadly has marked him out at times this season. Trying hard isn't enough if you can't actually play—which is why I'm not one of the fans at Spurs that sings the Steffen Freund song—but Holtby has talent as well.
He's never really had a run-in what I consider to be his best position of central midfield.
Like many other Spurs fans, Fitch will perhaps be left to lament the loss of Holtby, a player who never quite was given the chance to live up to his potential at White Hart Lane. There was the thought that new manager Mauricio Pochettino might prefer Holtby to Tim Sherwood, but clearly that wasn't the case.
Perhaps it simply wasn't the right fit. Or perhaps a team in transition like Spurs simply gave up on him a bit too soon.