By Daniel Jovanov
Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink has laughed off suggestions that there is no place in modern football for Rafael van der Vaart and believes the Netherlands international is still one of the best players around in the Bundesliga.
The 30-year-old, who returned to HSV from Tottenham in the summer of 2012, has been criticised for his lack of dynamism in the past season, but Fink has insisted that the attacking midfielder remains a key figure for Hamburg.
"I think people have to be careful with statements that there's no place for players like him in modern football. Van der Vaart scored five goals and created 10 more last season," Fink told Goal.
"For me, he is still one of the best players around in the Bundesliga, just like before. He has the ability to dictate the tempo of the game, is very dangerous in front of goal and is a real leader.
"That's why I think it's a bit of a joke to say that he doesn't fit in in modern football."
Hamburg finished seventh in the Bundesliga table last term and Van der Vaart recently voiced their determination to qualify for European football this season.