Remember Lewis Holtby? A few years back, he was the cat’s pyjamas. Back when England were in desperate need of more technically gifted players, they were fluttering their eyelashes at him and showing him a bit of ankle. The German born, former Under-21 captain was eligible to play for England via his father, but he eventually closed that door by representing Germany in a competitive fixture.
Holtby joined Spurs from Schalke in January 2013 and subsequently moved to Fulham on loan, when they were relegated from the top flight along with Cardiff. He joined Hamburg on loan ahead of a permanent move in July 2015 and that is where he has been ever since. One of the giants of German football, Holtby’s move coincided with a period of them struggling to stay in the Bundesliga and last year they were relegated for the first time in their history.
Holtby remained with the club and has played 138 games for them, but will not play for them again. His contract expires in the summer and the club have already announced that he will leave in the summer. Holtby will also depart under a cloud, as the 28-year-old was not selected as a starter for a trip to Union Berlin and under those circumstances expressed that he would rather not travel.
Suffice to say, it did not go down well. He has not trained with the first team since and was not considered for selection from that point on. It was reported that Holtby knew he had made a huge blunder, but Hamburg were not for turning. The board were livid that a ‘healthy player’ would act in such a way and the coach Hannes Wolf claimed that trust had been permanently betrayed.
Not a particularly glowing reference, I know, but Holtby is a very good player and a particularly appealing option as a free agent. He can play anywhere through central midfield, is technically very gifted and a great passer. Like everyone else Cardiff are likely to be interested in this summer, Rangers are already circling and they won’t be the only ones. His mistake appears to be out of character and is certainly one that he will learn from.
With the departures of Victor Camarasa, Harry Arter and Aron Gunnarsson leaving a gaping hole in the heart of the Cardiff squad, central midfielders are an absolute priority and versatile central midfielders would be an added bonus. Holtby, who recorded five goals and five assists this term, may be aiming higher than swapping one second tier for another, but his stock is not especially high just now and it may well be a case that he is out of sight and out of mind in Bundesliga 2.
Cardiff’s budget is as yet unknown, but unlikely to be substantial., If they have designs on signing as many as six players this summer, smart signings like Holtby would definitely help make a little go a long way.