Rafael van der Vaart Signs with Real

Dakota RubinSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

Spanish newspaper El Marca is reporting that Real Madrid have come to an agreement with 25-year-old Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.

The Dutch midfielder would join fellow compatriots Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, and Ruud van Nistelrooy in the attacking half for the defending La Liga champions.

After being linked to Tottenham earlier this summer, van der Vaart had reportedly said he would rather stay with Hamburger SV than leave for a club at the same level. However, he did hint that he would be open to a move to one of the major clubs in England, Spain, or Italy.

Over the last two summers, Madrid has signed four Dutch players—Robben, Sneijder, and Royston Drenthe all joined the club last season—and will now sport five on their roster. After watching this year's European Championship, it looks like Madrid hope to replicate some of the attacking prowess that the Oranje showed in Austria/Switzerland.

When my friend sent me a post from the German newspaper Kicker announcing the trade this morning, the only word of the article I understood was "Madrid."

Both Kicker and El Marca are reporting that a deal is done with van der Vaart and the transfer is expected to be completed with over the next few days in the neighborhood of €20 million.

Where will van der Vaart fit in with Madrid? The Spanish giants seem to have an abundance of attacking midfielders already with Robben, Sneijder, Robinho, Baptista, and Guti.

But, if recent reports are correct, Robinho could be on his way to Chelsea, which would explain Madrid’s thinking when bringing in van der Vaart.

Another big issue this raises is Los Blancos' interest in Cristiano Ronaldo. Earlier this summer the transfer looked inevitable but with talks slowing down lately and this deal in place, it looks less and less likely that Ronaldo will join Madrid.

With this deal all but finished, here is a look at what Real's starting lineup could look like as they attempt to defend their La Liga title:

GK: Ikar Casillas.

DEF: Fabio Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos, Gabriel Heinze, Pepe.

MID: Fernando Gago, Sneijder, Robben, Van Der Vaart.

ATT: Van Nistelrooy and Raul.

This is an incredibly potent team that can score goals and will not give up many.  They also leave Bernd Schuster many options; whether he wants to play a 4-4-2 or his prefered 4-5-1 he has the players.

What do you think about this transfer and what it will do for Madrid this next season. Also, what does it means for Ronaldo's future with Man U.

Article originally published on The Looper.