Holtby relishing 'dream move' to Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur-bound Lewis Holtby will quit the Bundesliga to fulfil his dream of playing in England, but the Schalke 04 midfielder insists the move will not harm his Germany prospects.
Holtby will join Spurs in July, despite reported interest from their Premier League rivals, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton, and he has said he wants to win titles with Tottenham, having been impressed by manager Andre Villas-Boas.
The 22-year-old insists he is ignoring the fate of Chelsea's Marko Marin, who has made just one Premier League start for the Blues since leaving Werder Bremen and won the last of his 16 Germany caps in November 2010.
"I always think positive, I am called Lewis Harry Holtby and not Marin," he insisted.
Having signed a five-year deal with Spurs to earn a reported 4.3 million euros per year (US$5.7m), Holtby will finish the season with Schalke 04 and they host Hanover on Friday in the first Bundesliga game of 2013.
Holtby is unsure what to expect from the Gelsenkirchen fans having committed to the north London club.
"I don't know if the fans will whistle, but I will give my all for Schalke until the last day," he told German daily Bild.
"My colours are still blue and white, it's not all about money, it's about fulfilling my dreams."
With just three senior international appearances to his name, Holtby is far from the finished product and needs first-team football at Spurs to keep himself in Joachim Loew's thoughts once he leaves the Bundesliga limelight.
"I haven't made it easy for myself," said Holtby.
"This isn't a decision against Schalke, but I have dreamed of playing in the Premier League ever since I was a little boy.
"The question was, did I want to wait another two or three years?
"I have decided to take the step to fulfill my dreams."
Holtby is most comfortable in the central midfield role and was outstanding when Schalke earned a rare 2-1 Bundesliga victory at bitter rivals and German champions Borussia Dortmund in October.
He faces competition in Tottenham's central midfield from the likes of Scott Parker, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Sandro or Moussa Dembele.
Holtby is adept at various roles, from a deep-lying playmaker - a position in which he performed well learning from veteran Raul with Schalke last season - or playing in an attacking midfielder role just behind the striker.
The son of an Everton-loving former British soldier, Holtby was born in Erkelenz, near the Dutch border while his father was stationed in Germany.
He first exploded onto the Bundesliga scene in late 2010 while on loan at Mainz 05 as he linked up with Tunisia's Sami Allagui and Germany's rising star Andre Schuerrle as the minnows won their opening seven league games.
The run included a rare 2-1 win at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena with Holtby setting up Allagui for the opening goal.
The trio hit the headlines for their goal celebrations, which saw them imitating a rock band - with Holtby using the corner flag as a mock microphone.
Holtby played out on the right at Mainz, using his left-foot to good effect, but he is a central midfielder by nature.
He has been a regular in the Germany Under-21 squad for the last three years and was promoted to the senior side, making his debut against Azerbaijan in June 2011.
But with Ozil, Dortmund's Mario Goetze and Marco Reus, plus Bayern's Toni Kroos vying for the central midfielder berth, he has intense competition for the white shirt of Germany.
His move to Spurs is a gamble – he would not be the first Bundesliga star to lose his Germany place after being tempted abroad.
Defender Christoph Metzelder (who joined Real Madrid in 2008), goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand (Valencia in 2007) and wing Piotr Trochowski (Sevilla in 2010) all lost their places in Germany's squad under Loew after struggling for first-team football.