The thought of Rafael Van Der Vaart playing in the blue and white hoops of little old Reading is incredible. As we learnt yesterday, there is a possibility of this ACTUALLY happening, with the Dutchman reportedly holding informal talks with the Royals.
The immediate reaction from the fanbase was that of understandable surprise at what an amazing signing this would be. Indeed, van der Vaart would be Reading's most high-profile new arrival ever. But is he still capable of the top level performances that made him a Galactico, or would he be just another Royston Drenthe?
Are you mad, van der Vaart would be an amazing player for Reading!
Jaap Stam has undoubtedly lifted the mood in Berkshire since coming in, and fans are excited about the 'Dutch revolution' that seems to be taking shape. If van der Vaart joined was signed, anticipation levels would go into overdrive. He is a big name player. And big name players draw people in. People would be much more likely to turn up to the Madejski on a Saturday afternoon if they knew they would be watching Rafael van der Vaart over Danny Williams for the fourth season in a row. Optimism would increase, and you'd probably expect Reading's promotion odds to get better. Hoards of people would flock to get 'van der Vaart' on the back of their shirts. In short, the 33 year old would generate hype and therefore earn the club more money.
On the pitch, the midfielder's impact could be hugely beneficial too. Not since Gylfi Sigurdsson (coincidentally the man who replaced VDV at Spurs), have Reading had a quality attacking midfielder to score goals and create multiple chances per game. van der Vaart is a player who produces moments of magic and sheer brilliance to excite the crowd. He excels from dead ball situations, and can pick a pass from pretty much anywhere on the pitch. Apart from perhaps John Swift, there is no midfielder at the club currently who you would expect to competently perform the offensive duties in Stam's midfield three. That is undoubtedly the role van der Vaart would take, providing a link between the defence and attack.
van der Vaart's CV tells of a player who has played at the top level for a number of years. His trophy cabinet includes two Dutch league titles, the Dutch cup, and the Spanish Super Cup. He has played in the Champions League, European Championship and the World Cup, reaching the final of the latter in 2010, whilst the 33 year old also has 109 caps for the Netherlands. A player of van der Vaart's prestige and experience would command respect in the dressing room. Only Ali Al-Habsi and Yann Kermorgant would be older than van der Vaart, whilst he also possesses leadership qualities having been previously captained Ajax, Hamburg and the Dutch national team.
Actually, I do have some doubts come to think of it...
As much as van der Vaart would improve the club's ticket and shirt sales, he would also cost them a decent amount in wages. It is not known how much he is currently being paid at Real Betis, but it was reported just before he signed for the Spanish club last year that they could only just about afford his wages. Reading would surely have to convince van der Vaart to take a pay-cut for him to join, but even then you would expect him to be the highest paid player at the club. It's a difficult one, especially when the Thai owners have admitted they don't have loads of money and have worked hard to get the wage bill down.
Making van der Vaart the highest paid player would be unjustifiable if the 33 year old was rarely on the pitch. The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world, playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, so would van der Vaart, a player with an unfortunate injury history, be able to cope? Of course I'm not suggesting he should be able to play all 46 games, but he made just nine appearances for Real Betis in 2015-16, either being subbed on or subbed off in all of them. He's not completed ninety minutes in over a year.
That brings me on to the fact that van der Vaart is certainly not the player he was. Back in January, he admitted he had reached "the absolute low point" of his career, whilst at the end of the 2014-15 season, the midfielder was voted the biggest flop of the Bundesliga campaign by his fellow professionals. I think we would perhaps be left disappointed by van der Vaart if he signed, expecting him to pull up trees when in reality he is nearing the end of his career and just doesn't possess the qualities he used to. Just because he is a big name doesn't mean he would be incredible for us. We've seen that far too many times before with the likes of Drenthe, Shaun Goater and Ray Houghton to name a few.
So yes, it would be amazing to have Rafael van der Vaart at Reading FC just because he is Rafael van der Vaart. Has he still got it in him and would good signing? Or is the deal not as good as it sounds? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and vote in our poll.