Netherlands and Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart will miss this summer’s FIFA World Cup after suffering a calf injury at the squad’s training camp in Portugal.
The 31-year-old had been named as one of 30 players in Louis van Gaal’s provisional squad, and he was widely expected to be rewarded with a seat on the flight to Brazil. However, in light of the injury, the Dutchman will now miss out on what would have been his sixth major tournament in an Oranje shirt.
According to Goal.com, Van der Vaart picked up the knock on Tuesday in the team's final session before heading back to Rotterdam for Saturday’s friendly against Ghana. They will now have to make do without their most experienced head.
With 109 caps to his name, Van der Vaart boasts more caps than any other player in an otherwise relatively youthful squad. His presence in the dressing room will be sorely missed.
In addition to that, Van der Vaart’s withdrawal will cause yet another selection headache for Van Gaal. The 62-year-old has already altered his tactics to compensate for the long-term absence of Roma’s Kevin Strootman, and the future Manchester United manager may now be forced into shuffling the pack once more.
Club side Hamburg may have endured a torrid Bundesliga campaign, but that did not prevent the Dutch playmaker from performing to his normal high standards. As per WhoScored.com’s Twitter feed, Van der Vaart was the most creative Dutchman in any of Europe’s top leagues:
Rafael van der Vaart: No Dutchman registered more assists in Europe's top 5 leagues last season than Van der Vaart (6) #Oranje— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 28, 2014
His absence will be a huge loss to both the Oranje and the tournament.
The Netherlands begin their World Cup campaign against defending champions Spain on June 13.