Although Rafael Van der Vaart only spent two seasons at White Hart Lane, the high regard he is held in by Tottenham Hotspur fans is testament to the impact he made at the club. His departure in the summer was ranked as almost as important as that of Luka Modric's, and the lack of creativity that has sometimes been evident in the final third for Spurs an indication that the Dutch player was not properly replaced.
The arrival of Lewis Holtby was heralded as the club finally bringing in someone to fill the void left by Van der Vaart, and Holtby has already shown plenty of clever creativity in the appearances he has made. However whilst the German midfielder has yet to demonstrate that he will be able to match Van der Vaart's attacking output, particularly in terms of goals, he has more complete all round game that might make him more successful than the Dutchman at White Hart Lane.
Holtby is tenacious, tireless and eager to impress at Tottenham Hotspur, and this fits well with the system that Andre Villas-Boas has implemented at the club. All of Spurs players now have to be able to press the opposition for ninety minutes, as well as being comfortable in possession. Ensuring that this kind of play begins in the front line means that Spurs' attacking midfielders are constantly harrying the opposition and tracking back to support the central midfield.
For all of his evident qualities, this is not Van der Vaart's game, with the Dutchman more of a luxury player whose limited attempts at tracking back usually result in a foul. It is a different story with Holtby, who is used to playing a pressing game, and seemingly relishes the chance to tear into challenges and win possession back for his side. Add in the German's ability on the ball, and he looks a perfect fit for Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham, and more naturally suited to the system than Van der Vaart.
Whether he can make good on his early promise and become as good a player for Spurs as Van der Vaart is clearly yet to be seen, but Holtby has all the attributes to be even more important than the Dutch player at White Hart Lane.
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