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Rafael van der Vaart recently took part in a Q&A session with FourFourTwo and opened up about links with Arsenal when he was still at Real Madrid.
While Van der Vaart vehemently insists that he’s not upset a move to Arsenal never actually came about when he was at Real Madrid, the 35-year-old has explained that the links stemmed from ‘several conversations’ he had with Dutch teammate Robin van Persie in training.
“Yeah, [moving to Arsenal], did get mentioned,” he said.
“I had several conversations with Robin van Persie, my teammate with the Dutch side, and he had spoken to Arsenal about me a few times, but I never heard anything.
“I did not regret it – joining Spurs was the best thing that happened to me.”
The midfielder was at Madrid from 2008-2010 before he joined Spurs, where he stayed for two years. While there, he managed to net four goals in four games against Arsenal, which was a little annoying. You can understand why Spurs fans absolutely adored him.
“I never had anything against Arsenal,” he admits.
“But when I joined Spurs I tried to learn about the club’s traditions and I soon found out about the magnitude of the [north London derby].
“I always try to immense myself in the emotions of the fans, and in the derbies against Arsenal I tried to give the Spurs fans a little bit of their pride back.
“I wanted them to have something to cheer about at work the next morning.”
During his two years in north London, Van der Vaart scored a total of 28 goals and provided 18 assists in 77 appearances.
Obviously, his career could have gone in a completely different direction if Arsenal had come for him. For better or worse. Although it sounds like he was keener on the move than the club was.
Van der Vaart left Spurs in 2012 and joined Hamburger SV followed by Real Betis three years later. He now plays for Danish club Midtjylland, where he’s been since 2016.