Van der Vaart declines Hamburg return

Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart - linked with Arsenal, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool in the summer - has again insisted that he does not wish to leave the club. The 26-year-old was widely expected to wave goodbye to the Bernabeu during the close-season following the arrivals of Kaka, Xabi Alonso and Cristiano Ronaldo. But despite the Dutch international - who has won 74 caps for his country - being linked with a host of Premier League sides as well as former clubs Ajax and Hamburg, the playmaker continually pledged his allegiance to the Madrid cause. As predicted, Van der Vaart's appearances in 2009/10 have been severely limited, reigniting speculation that he will depart in January in order to gain regular action ahead of the World Cup in South Africa. However, following reports that Hamburg - who Van der Vaart left to join Real in 2008 after scoring 29 goals in 74 league outings - were interested in reacquiring his services, the Dutchman has respectfully declined the option. “I am going to stay, I will not request a transfer,” he told Bild. “It was not like it should have been in the past but now I am getting to play games and believe I can succeed at Real Madrid. “This is nothing against Hamburg, the Hamburg fans or the club. They are still very much part of my heart.

“This is a decision in favour of Madrid and not against Hamburg.”