Soccer

Van der Vaart returns to Hamburg

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP)

Netherlands midfielder Rafael van der Vaart left Tottenham Friday to return to Hamburger SV, one of his former clubs.

Hamburg announced Friday that it had signed the 29-year-old midfielder on a three-year contract on the final day of the transfer window.

Two other Dutchmen were involved in final-day moves in the Bundesliga.

Schalke took on midfielder Ibrahim Afellay on loan from Barcelona until the end of the season, while Hoffenheim released forward Ryan Babel.

Van der Vaart previously played for Hamburg from 2005-08 and became a fan favorite, before moving to Real Madrid. He struggled to establish himself in Spain and moved to Tottenham two years later.

Hamburg is the only club never to be relegated in the 50-year history of the Bundesliga, but it made a poor start to the season, losing its opener at home to Nuremberg and getting knocked out of the German Cup.

Earlier Friday, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal left out Van der Vaart from the squad to play Turkey and Hungary in the country's opening World Cup qualifiers.

The 26-year-old Afellay is coming off an injury-plagued season when left knee surgery limited him to just five appearances. Since joining from PSV Eindhoven in December 2010, Afellay has scored two goals in 33 appearances, including one in Barcelona's 3-1 Champions League final triumph over Manchester United last year.

But Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova had made it publicly clear Afellay had no place at the club this season after saying the Catalan team was ''not a social club'' and suggesting he should seek a move.

At the same time, Schalke sent Brazilian striker Edu on loan to promoted Greuther Fuerth until the end of the year. It also sent Spanish midfielder Jose Manuel Jurado to Spartak Moscow on a season-long loan.

Babel was set to return to his first club Ajax Amsterdam pending a medical check. The Dutchman arrived in Hoffenheim in January 2011 from Liverpool and scored six goals in 51 matches for the Bundesliga club.

Hoffenheim also said Ghana defender Isaac Vorsah was leaving to join Red Bull Salzburg on a two-year contract and also sent another defender - and Dutchman - Edson Braafheid, to Twente on loan until the end of the season..

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