To say it’s a big season for Erik Lamela is something of an understatement. This will be his third year with us but given his injury-laden campaign in 2013/14, last August was the first time we got to see him properly in a Spurs shirt. It wasn’t long before we became all too familiar with his flicks to no-one, runs into traffic and banging of the floor in frustration after being bundled off the ball yet again. A lot of people weren’t impressed.
His total of two league goals all season spoke volumes as did the fact that he spent a lot of the time battling for a place in the starting XI with another player who had what could politely be described as a patchy season in Andros Townsend. The rabona strike in the Europa League and his lovely curled drive against Burnley promised much but it never came. It wasn’t all bad though; Lamela had the top number of assists for us in the Premier League last season – something that Christian Eriksen should perhaps be thinking about. His total of 7 looks good when you learn that it was the same as David Silva’s, he was though one behind Jamie Vardy – so not so good.
I suspect to everyone’s surprise what accompanied the lean towards flashiness, theatrics and geometric hairstyles was an appetite for hard work that meant his ground-covered statistics were always amongst the highest in the side. He was almost the polar opposite of the player we were expecting to see. Despite the fact that he often appeared out of his depth, especially against physically bigger sides, he never went into hiding and never appeared to give up. Whether this is due to an innate belief in his own ability, a desire to justify his transfer fee or just a wish to do his best for Poch and Spurs I don’t know but it’s served him well as he’s managed to be one of the few of the Magnificent Seven not being forced into the queue to leave this summer – or not as far as we know anyway.
He’s been given a last chance basically. If he wants to succeed in England he needs to change some things and improve on others. Like Harry he doesn’t have the pace he’d like but Kane has bulked up and uses his strength to get him into dangerous positions and to keep possession when under pressure. Lamela should be doing that too. He should be in the gym every day becoming the man and leaving the boy behind.
He has confidence and he has tricks but we’ve rarely seen anyone fooled by them for long enough for him to get by them cleanly – toughening up and strengthening will help him here too.
Most of all though, he has talent. There is a footballer in there trying to get out. It’s going to need alterations to his style and decision-making amongst other things and whilst he probably isn’t the superstar we were all hoping for two years ago, he can become a key and vital member of the team, especially if he can find a way to get his left foot curlers loaded and fired frequently during games.
If he doesn’t do these things, if he ends up having a season like the last one, he may be going to Europe for much longer than just his holidays next summer.
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