Van der Vaart in quit threat
Dutch midfielder star Rafael van der Vaart has threatened to quit Hamburg if they do not improve on last year's disappointing season.
The former Ajax man - who is Hamburg's stand-out player - was left disappointed after they spent the first half of last season battling relegation and, while he is captain and has a contract until 2010, even his own team-mates think he may leave.
"I believe he will stay next season," defender Joris Mathijsen told Bild Sport. "If we have a good season then he could stay; if not, he will go."
The player himself confirmed that a big improvement is required if he is to consider continuing his career at a club which surprised many by winning the race for his signature in 2005.
"It could be that I leave next year," Van der Vaart said.
"I have always said, honestly, that one should never promise anything in football."
Van der Vaart's contract expires in 2010, which means he would be free to talk to other clubs from January of that year. He also has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for £1 million from 2009, so his value would begin to decline from the end of the 2007/8 season. Subsequently, he is likely to either be sold or sign a new contract as early as next summer.
Whatever happens next season, a move at some point is likely for the 24-year-old Netherlands international, who is keen to try his hand at Spain's Liga.
"It must be a big club," he declared.
"It is my goal to play at a club that is always challenging for the top places in the championship and victory in the Champions League."
Van der Vaart has scored 27 goals in 59 domestic and European appearances for Hamburg.