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Jul 10, 2013

Van der Vaart targets Europa League

Hamburg skipper Rafael van der Vaart has set his sights on the twin goals of qualifiyng for the Europa League and playing in his third World Cup for Netherlands.

Van der Vaart, 30, returned from his summer holidays slightly overweight - something that made headlines in both Hamburg and the Netherlands.

He told Hamburger Abendblatt: "I had a difficult year, and it was important to clear my mind during the holidays. But what are two or three kilos anyway?"

Now Van der Vaart is aiming for a successful season and wants to go one better than last time around when they finished seventh - a place shy of the Europa League spots.

"The goal is the Europa League," he told Bild. "Personally, I want to be important to the team. Looking back on last season, I believe I had a good year. I was satisfied, but I scored too few goals."

The midfielder believes an improvement on that will increase his chances of playing in the World Cup, explaining: "[Luis] van Gaal is an honest coach. Everybody has the same chance under him.

"If I play a good year, I have a good chance of being part of the World Cup squad. It would be a dream to take part in it once more."

Van der Vaart will be joined at Hamburg by Arsenal defender Johan Djourou, who signed a one-year loan deal earlier this month. "He is a good player with a lot of experience - and that despite him being only 26," he said. "He is very strong technically."

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