Van der Vaart slams Man United speculation

Real Madrid playmaker Rafael van der Vaart has hit out at claims linking him with a move to Manchester United, according to reports in the Spanish press.

The Daily Express had previously reported that the former Ajax and Hamburg midfielder would find a move to Old Trafford 'difficult to turn down,' following claims that the arrival of Mesut Ozil from Werder Bremen had pushed him down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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Only last week, the 27-year-old Dutchman was quoted as saying: "I could never play for another club in Spain and the truth is that if you are leaving Real Madrid, there is only one club you can join that is not a step down – and that’s Manchester United.

"If Manchester United could offer me first-team football with the situation as it is at Madrid, it would be very hard to turn down. Sir Alex Ferguson is a great coach and I would never think about joining a team where I didn’t believe I could win things, so all of a sudden that limits your choices.

“At Manchester United you know success is likely and that’s a big factor for me at this stage of my career."

The same report had suggested that Van der Vaart was one of four players who were to be made available for transfer by Jose Mourinho, as the Real Madrid supremo looks to trim his squad before the transfer window shuts next week.

But, according to Spanish newspaper AS, Van der Vaart is keen to knuckle down and fight for his place, despite facing competition for a midfield spot after the arrivals of Ozil, Sami Khedira, Angel di Maria, Pedro Leon and Sergio Canales this summer.

“These statements are invented. I have not spoken to any English newspaper. I want to fight for my place as usual,” Van der Vaart said.

"My first idea is to stay. I am 100 percent committed to Madrid. It is a situation similar to last year, but I am happy here in Madrid so I want and try to stay."

The Netherlands star faced a similar predicament this time last season after the swash-buckling arrivals of Kaka from AC Milan and Manchester United's Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo were supposed to have hastened his exit.

But, despite former coach Manuel Pellegrini initially not issuing the Dutchman with a squad number, Van der Vaart fought back to prove his worth to the team.

Both the Red Devils and German giants Bayern Munich were reported to be leading the chase for the 27-year-old this time around but, according to his agent Robert Geerling, the Netherlands star will stay put for now.

"Nobody at Real Madrid has said that Rafael has to go. Last year the competition for places was similar and he ended up being first choice and he looks strong enough to repeat history," Geerling said.

"There are many teams interested in Rafael, what remains to be seen is whether they can convince him to leave the Bernabeu.”

By James Martini

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