Hamburg - After more than 18 months away, new Hamburger SV loan signing Lewis Holtby cannot wait to set sail on Bundesliga waters once again.
The 23-year-old was only too happy to return to his homeland on deadline day, having made a name for himself at 1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke 04 before shipping out to Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur FC in January 2013.
"I enjoyed my time in England," recalled Holtby, who scored once in 13 appearances whilst on loan at Felix Magath's Fulham FC during the second half of 2013/14. "The fans don't wave as many flags [in England], but they're both top leagues. Now I want to be playing every week in the Bundesliga and showing people what I'm all about. I can't wait for the challenge."
The three-time Germany international found the net just once in 25 outings at parent club Tottenham compared to the ten-goal mark he hit in 55 Bundesliga games at former haunt Schalke, but his abilities are still fresh in the mind of Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart. "He's got exceptional qualities," explained the Dutch midfielder. "I hope we hit it off."
Suffice to say HSV's skipper is not the only one hoping for a lift at the Imtech Arena. The Red Shorts clung onto their ever-present Bundesliga status by way of a two-legged play-off win over Greuther Fürth last term, and have made a far from convincing start to the new campaign, drawing 0-0 and losing 3-0 against promoted duo 1. FC Köln and SC Paderborn 07 respectively.
"I have no doubt we've got it in us to play some good football here," Holtby told www.hsv.de optimistically. "[Sporting director] Dietmar Beiersdorfer's building towards something and I want to be a part of helping the club take that step forwards - even though it's going to require patience. I'm young, hungry and I'm ready to go for it."
'Tough road ahead'
The Erkelenz native's certainly in good company in his new surrounds at the port city club, who were understandably one of the Bundesliga's more active investors during the recently closed summer transfer window. USA international and FC Bayern München forward Julian Green, for one, represents a fine piece of business in the loan market to supplement the raft of fresh faces to have made Hamburg their permanent home in recent months.
Matthias Ostrzolek (FC Augsburg), Nicolai Müller (Mainz), Valon Behrami (SSC Napoli), Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Hertha Berlin) and Zoltan Stieber (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) have all come in to help steer the good ship HSV back on course, but as Holtby alluded to in the wake of his last-minute move to northern Germany, there'll be no quick fix for the club's apparent ills. "There's a tough road ahead, but I'll give it all I can to make things happen," he said. "Hamburg are still a massive club."