Rafael van der Vaart is set to miss Hamburg’s upcoming clash with Wolfsburg through injury, amid speculation that the midfielder could leave the club this summer.
It has not been a season to remember for either Die Rothosen or captain Van der Vaart, who has been struggling for form throughout the season and has often looked out of place in midfield.
While scoring seven and setting up a further six goals in the first half of the Bundesliga campaign, the Netherlands international has only contributed two assists since the winter break.
On Saturday, Hamburg host in-form Wolfsburg looking to pick up points to aid their fight against relegation.
However, coach Mirko Slomka told a news conference on Wednesday that he could “basically rule out” Van der Vaart for the game.
“It’s extremely difficult for Rafael to find his rhythm,” Slomka said. “He gets thrown out of it over and over again.”
As well as struggling on the field this season, the former Tottenham player has also been making headlines off it.
A long piece on the midfielder featured in kicker on Thursday with the headline: “The End?”
“Under the public’s burning lens, Van der Vaart dropped from saviour to scapegoat, massive problems added to health problems,” the article read. “Or the other way round?”
While not quoting any club officials, kicker claimed that “internally it’s clear: the time for the former Hansestadt flagship is running out.”
However, Hamburg may have problems offloading a player who reportedly earns 67,000 euros a week and is contracted to the club until 2015.
Van der Vaart had been linked with a return to Ajax in recent weeks, but kicker quoted coach Frank de Boer as saying: “Players at his age should be something special. It will always remain a burden to return to a club where you have earned your first merits. It has backfired many times.”