I am not a number I am a free man!
Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has been told he still has a future at Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants needed to cut their squad after their lavish summer spending spree, which brought in the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Xavi Alonso.
Van der Vaart was told he could leave the club and not only had to train away from the first-team squad but was not even given a squad number for this season.
But the departure of fellow Dutchmen Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder last week for Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, respectively, has handed Van der Vaart a reprieve.
The 26-year-old and his lawyer, Robert Geerlings, recently met with Real coach Manuel Pellegrini, technical director Jorge Valdano and general director Jose Angel Sanchez.
And having already turned down a move to Turkish champions Besiktas this summer, Geerlings admitted it was unexpected to hear Van der Vaart was still wanted at the Bernabeu.
“At the meeting Rafael was urgently requested to stay at Real,” he told weekly football magazine Voetbal International.
“The squad has been decreased to 25 players and that made them decide that Rafael doesn’t have to leave anymore.
“For us, it was very surprising, and Rafael has decided to fight for his place in Madrid.”
Geerlings also claimed that two English clubs made offers for Van der Vaart but he now insists: “It’s official, Rafael will stay at Real Madrid.”
Van der Vaart made 32 league appearances for Real last season after a summer move from Hamburg, but only 15 were starts. (Sky Sports)
Not having a squad number must be the ultimate indignity as a footballer, kind of like coming to work to find you don’t have a desk. But it appears he has worked out his differences with Real Madrid and whilst his fellow Dutch teammates have walked the plank, he is going to stick around on the off chance he gets a place on the subs bench.
Many clubs had attempted to lure the former Ajax and Hamburg man away from the Bernabeu with the promise of first team football, and a squad number all of his own but still Rafael seemed to be keen on remaining the forgotten man at the club.
One can only hope that come January he has managed to get some playing time in the starting eleven otherwise this will start over again when the next transfer window opens!