How Erik Lamela has salvaged his Tottenham Hotspur career
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on August 23, 2016
The fairy tale end to an electrifying Tottenham Hotspur career. On September 1st 2013, Gareth Bale made his inevitable move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, for a staggering world record fee at the time in the region of £86m. After weeks of speculation circulating around the Welshman’s future at White Hart Lane, with the individual pieces of brilliance he would produce week in week out for us fans, it was imminent he moved on to bigger and greater heights.
When he was just 17 years old, the North Londoners acquired his signature for just £5m from Southampton. After emerging into the first team and conversion from left back to left wing, he was consistently participating in regular first team action. He gradually begun to take the spotlight and absorbed all the headlines around the globe; this didn’t hinder his performance one bit. If anything it encouraged him to step his game up to a much higher level, if that was even possible?
The sheer pace he possessed complimented by a wand of a left foot, he started to become an elusive threat to the oppositions defence, trust me ask Maicon! Last gasp winners and heroic man of the mach performances wasn’t anything new to us as we realized we found someone special in our alliance. Being a Spurs fan at the time it was devastating seeing a player of that caliber leave your club, but you have to understand the circumstances when a huge club like Real Madrid come knocking, these opportunities don’t come around much often.
Having around £90m in the bank it was only right to be targeted by every player under the sun, as Daniel Levy had no excuses for being reluctant to spend and put his money where his mouth was after countless years of disappointment regarding our transfer activity. Bale had a huge influence on that Tottenham side, with his departure it looked like we were going to witness a makeshift squad heading into the new Premier League campaign, and this was certainly not the case.
Labelled ‘the magnificent 7’ in regards to the seven players we purchased with the money such as Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen and striker Roberto Soldado also spring to mind, we looked like a much stronger, resilient force to be reckoned with by the more superior teams in the top flight of English football. We no longer heavily relied on Bale’s world class performances to snatch us the three points as we distributed our money evenly on different aspects of the starting eleven, with one of them being AS Roma’s superstar Erik Lamela.
In late 2011 Erik joined Roma from River Plate where he grew up during his childhood, for a rather hefty £10m with additional bonuses for an unproven prospect, Roma noticed his potential and captured this young talent. Signing a 5-year-contract with the Italians he saw his future in Rome prior to his move away from his hometown, but this wasn’t the case at all.
Bagging his first goal against Palermo it was fair to say he started off the blocks at his new club, playing with confidence and expressing his ability to many fans across the world. Following his first season he wanted to continue his fine form heading into the next campaign, hitting a streak of seven goals in six games, the £10m Roma paid seemed like an absolute steal. After his second year at the club, he achieved more then double the goals he scored then in his first year, netting 15 out on the right wing wasn’t to shabby.
After two impressive seasons in Rome his reputation and market value rapidly increased, with Tottenham Hotspur having heaps of money to splash out for an attempt to achieve Champions League qualification we prioritized him over many other possible targets. The surprise of the announcement coming so early accompanied by former Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen and Romania international Vlad Chiriches it was safe to say was no shortage of excitement for us fans in Lilywhite.
Paying the £30m Roma was demanding we finally captured our man, he was seen to have bags of potential and dubbed to be one of the greatest talents in this generation, so the expectations were definitely sky high for the Argentine. He was very settled in Italy with reports stating he was in tears after the news broke out he was leaving the club, as he became our record breaking signing days after.
First two seasons with Spurs (what went wrong?)
The anticipation increased with the build up to the new season, with a new Tottenham side we where very skeptical if they would gel and reach the heights many of us were expecting, and the catalyst to that would be Lamela. A rather disappointing debut, not looking like man we paid a large proportion of our money on. He looked very uncomfortable on the ball, lacked confidence and many of his passes very inaccurate.
We didn’t take much notice of this as all players need time to adapt but it was occurring on a frequent basis, by that I mean the whole of the 2013/14 season. Following the end of the campaign Erik stated he was playing with slight back injury since his arrival, and was so eager to prove his worth he was adamant he played even with an injury which undoubtedly stopped him playing to the best of his ability.
As he was gradually improving and near the end of last season he started to look worthy of a £30m player, and this season being no different. The pressure on his shoulders to deliver being our most expensive player ever I think he’s starting to justify his staggering price tag.
Here are a few significant factors which he lacked during his first two rather anti climatic years at White Hart Lane, and how he’s adapted these elements to his game to salvage his Tottenham Hotspur career.
Don’t get me wrong, we all knew this wasn’t his greatest asset but it was extremely poor. He got dispossessed to often and it was extremely frustrating to witness. He would ruin the counter attacks due to his inability to hold up the ball and then get shrugged off with a legitimate shoulder to shoulder. Many know the Premier League is extremely physical and this is how fixtures against Stoke and West Brom are no pushover, this is what differentiates the league to any other in world football. Fans love the energetic feeling and fast paced tempo followed by crunching tackles and bust ups between the players, but unfortunately this was way out his comfort zone and was a huge reason to his disastrous first two years at the club.
Over pre-season you can identify he has certainly bulked up, he is more hungry then ever and extremely determined to redeem his first two seasons. Pochettino’s philosophy involves high press in the oppositions half and he’s the best at it, his passion for the club was never the issue and it’s now delightful to watch someone succeed who loves the club so much. Being the player who produced the most fouls last year is obviously not a stat to be proud of but it connotes he has got stronger and tougher. I now back him for a 50/50 challenge and expect him to come out with the ball, whereas last year I would constantly plead not to give the ball away doubting his physicality against any defender.
Lamela has a lot of flair to his game, in key areas of the field you would see him doing flicks and turns into defenders and lose the ball, leaving us vulnerable on the counter attack and exposed in defence. You could see his eagerness to impress, and sometimes a little but to much. It took him time to adjust his game to suit the league and a disciplined coach in Mauricio Pochettino as he has been a revelation under the fellow Argentine manager. Even to this day he would still attempt audacious tricks, remember that rabona goal? But seriously, he has realized the competitive nature towards the league and plays in a much more serious, mature attitude and tries to eradicate all these habits while on the pitch.
His vision and awareness is impeccable, the best trait to his game in my opinion. It will go unseen but he always looks to play the ball forwards and cuts through the midfield with an exquisite pass. It gives the likes of Eriksen and Alli time and space to cause havoc upon the opposition and supply the ammo to Harry Kane, who rarely misses when he has an eye for goal. He rarely over complicates in attack and has a variation to his game now, he can cut in on his left and have a fierce strike on goal or play it safe when need be.
One advantage Lamela has which the whole squad doesn’t have is experience playing against Italian defences. Kick starting his career in Roma means he knows the league inside out, the tactical approach they have towards a game and how to manipulate it. I understand it’s a friendly match but look how he dismantled Inter Milan in their match in Oslo, attracting huge amounts of interest from Italian clubs since he joined Tottenham only indicates he was a huge success in that league.
With the likelihood of us facing a side from the Serie A in the Champions League is very high if we take it seriously. We definitely should because this young, ambitious squad would thrive off the competition and cherish participating in such a prestigious tournament.
“My moment will come and I will make the difference” Erik Lamela.