Tottenham loanee Holtby encounters familiar problem at Hamburg

Hamburg are struggling to effectively fit Lewis Holtby and Rafael van der Vaart into the same team.

Lewis Holtby is back in Germany on loan with Hamburg, but it's fair to say his Bundesliga return is not going to plan so far.

Having been relegated on loan at Fulham last season, Holtby faces another battle, early on it seems at least, with Hamburg amassing only six points all season, sitting 16th of 18 teams in the division.

Holtby has made six starts and one substitute appearance, and so far has no goals and just the one assist to his name.

He has been deployed in a variety of positions, attacking midfield, left wing, and defensive midfield. 

German newspaper BILD report that the biggest problem facing Hamburg, is the attempt to squeeze both himself, and Rafael van der Vaart into the same team.

The former Spurs playmaker, like Holtby, flourishes in the attacking midfield position, but Holtby's flexibility means he is often the one shunted about, and has been mainly since the Dutchman returned from injury.

New coach Joe Zinnbauer admits he is unsure of a solution: "We have two outstanding footballers in the position. We will come up with something. Holtby can also play on the left or on the right."

Van der Vaart's performances this campaign have hardly helped the situation, he has no goals and no assists, and is rated by performance index whoscored as Hamburg's 17th best player this season, but as the club captain, there is reason to keep him in the side.

For Holtby it is a familiar problem not only because of Van der Vaart's Tottenham connection.

He is encountering the same problem as he did at Spurs, unable to play in an attacking midfield role on a regular basis because there was a clear first choice, Christian Eriksen.

The situation will come to a head however, as Holtby is just, officially, on a year's loan, and Van der Vaart's contract expires at the end of this season, a deal Hamburg are yet to renew despite his captaincy.

They may well be guided by their fight against relegation, but Hamburg will have to choose between one of the two if they can't find room for both, and with Holtby reported to be a 'done deal' by the German media unofficially already, it could spell bad news for Van der Vaart.

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