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Monday, May 30, 2005 

Hamburg sign Van der Vaart

Hamburger SV have completed the capture of AFC Ajax's highly-rated Dutch international midfielder Rafael van der Vaart.

The 22-year-old has signed a five-year contract with Hamburg in a deal worth an estimated €5.5m. "I am delighted the deal has finally gone through," he said. Hamburg's sporting director Dietmar Beiersdorfer added: "Rafael van der Vaart is an outstanding player and I am extremely happy he has pledged his future to Hamburger SV."

Startling rise
The 22-year-old made his Ajax debut during the 1999/00 season and established himself the following year when he replaced the veteran Richard Witschge in the side. He scored an impressive 14 goals in 20 appearances in 2001/02 as Ajax won the Eredivisie and Dutch Cup, before a serious knee injury briefly slowed his startling rise.

Dazzling success
Eighteen goals in 21 games confirmed his return to form during 2002/03 and last term he dazzled again as Ajax wrested the Eredivisie crown from PSV, scoring seven times in 24 league outings.

Terrific record
The left-sided playmaker registered once in six appearances for Ajax in this season's UEFA Champions League and added six more Eredivisie goals as Ajax finished runners-up behind PSV, completing his time in the Dutch top flight with a staggering 52 goals from 117 games. He has also scored four times in 28 matches for the Netherlands.

Source: Uefa.com

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