Atletico make Van der Vaart bid

Atletico Madrid have offered 15 million euros for Hamburg playmaker Rafael van der Vaart, Spanish sports daily AS today reported. The 25-year-old Dutch international "is the man who Atletico are looking for to close the chapter on their recruitment," the newspaper wrote.

Atletico's sports director Jesus Garcia Pitarch confirmed the club's interest in Van der Vaart on Tuesday, during the club's official presentation of French goalkeeper Gregory Coupet. "There could be interest in other players like Van der Vaart but these are players with strong potential who are very expensive," he said, adding there had been some contact with Valencia over Spain forward David Villa.

Van der Vaart said in an interview published in January that he would like to join a Spanish side at a time when Italian giants Juventus appeared well positioned to recruit him. "Spain is my preference because my mother Lolita is Spanish," he told Focus magazine.

Last week, Hamburg's new coach Martin Jol, said he was counting on the player for the 2008/09 campaign, which will get underway in mid-August. Van der Vaart joined Hamburg in 2005 and has a contract until 2010.

Atletico have sought to refresh their squad after finishing fourth in La Liga last season; a position which booked them a place in the qualifying rounds for the UEFA Champions League. In addition to Coupet, they have already signed Brazilian midfielder Paulo Assuncao from Porto, French striker Florent Sinama Pongolle from Recreativo Huelva, and defenders Johnny Heitinga Tomas Ujfalusi from Ajax and Fiorentina respectively.