Van der Vaart returns to Spain
Photo source: Bundesliga

Rafael van der Vaart will join Real Betis from Hamburger SV in the coming days, according to German newspaper Bild.    

Van der Vaart will reportedly agree a three-year deal with the club, with his current contract with Hamburg set to expire at the end of this month. He is to arrive in Spain today to sign the deal with Betis and meet their coach, Pepe Mel.

The 32-year-old was not short of offers this summer, with Sunderland said to be interested and Ajax's coach and director, Frank de Boer and Marc Overmars, openly inviting the Dutchman back to his home land and the club he joined when he was 10 and spent 12 years with. 

However, it is believed that van der Vaart has chosen Betis as it is close to where his grandparents reside in Andalusia.

Earlier this year in an interview with ThePostOnline, the midfielder admitted, "I told my grandfather that if I had the chance, I would finish my career near him at Cadiz."

Nonetheless, Cadiz play third-tier football in Spain now and would not be able to afford the Dutchman. Perhaps this is a move that could materialise later in his career if he is willing to take a large pay cut in exchange for a season of senitiment. 

Betis are now the nearest La Liga club to the region following their promotion and Cordoba's relegation, the latter of whom were closer to the home of his grandparents.

A move to Betis certainly represents a new challenge for van der Vaart, who will be helping the club stay up as opposed to fighting for titles like he did in his first stint in Spain, with Real Madrid between 2008 and 2010.

However, the 32-year-old has certainly become accustomed to relegation scraps in his past two seasons with Hamburg. Hamburg, once one of Germany's top sides, have found themselves fighting for survival in the past two seasons. They have been in the relegation play-off spot for successive seasons but managed to pull through on both occasions by the skin of their teeth.

The experience van der Vaart has at both the top and bottom of some of Europe's biggest leagues will be vital in helping Betis stay up this coming season, and his ability to chip in with some great and important goals will be a huge help too.

Van der Vaart leaves Hamburg after making 86 appearances and scoring 18 goals in his second spell with the club. Prior to that, he enjoyed stints with Tottenham Hotspur in England, Real Madrid, another three years with Hamburg and six senior seasons with Ajax. He has 109 caps for the Netherlands in an international career spanning 14 years and consisting of 25 goals.