On Thursday, Erik Lamela was confirmed as a Tottenham player, the day after AS Roma confirmed it on their official website. By breaking their transfer record for a third time this summer, Spurs have acquired not only one of the most exciting young talents in world football, but a startlingly similar player to Gareth Bale, who will be tasked with doing a very similar job to his predecessor.
Erik Manuel Lamela, who like Hernan Crespo and Esteban Cambiasso, is a product of the famed River Plate youth academy, having rejected the chance to join Barcelona’s La Masia academy at the age of 12, in favour of staying in Argentina. By 2010, Lamela had established himself in River’s first team at the age of just 18, and was widely considered to be the ‘next big star’ for Argentina. At this time, Erik was being courted by a whole host of top European clubs, but our very own Franco Baldini, then the General Manager of AS Roma, eventually won the race for Lamela, and his club paid around £15m to secure his services in 2011. Lamela had a tremendous Under-20 World Cup in the summer leading up to his first for Roma, scoring 3 goals and receiving huge praise for his performances. In his debut season in Serie A he managed a very respectable four goals in just over 20 starts. However, The 2012/13 season really was Lamela’s breakout season. Despite being a woeful manager, Zydnek Zeman’s ludicrously attacking philosophy did give Lamela a chance to receive the football, run at opposition defences and get into more attacking positions than he had managed under Enrique the season before, who played a very much more compact formation. Under Zeman, Lamela played his best football, and even managed to score in six consecutive Serie A games just before the Winter Break in Serie A. While Zeman’s style of management was very beneficial to Lamela, it wasn’t beneficial to the Giallorossi. Zeman was sacked in Feburary in 2013 with Roma in a disappointing 8th position. ‘Coco’ continued his season very well, despite Zeman’s departure, and ended up as the fifth top scorer of Serie A, with 15 goals to his name, and 5 assists.
So just how does Lamela’s last season with Roma translate to what AVB will be wanting from the young Argentinian in a Spurs shirt? My answer to this question is simple: he will be asking for very much of the same. I watched plenty of Roma last season. Quite often last season, just like Spurs, Roma struggled to break down the defences of their opposition. This problem was emphasised after Zydnek Zeman was relieved of his duties, and a more balanced, organised Roma came from the management of Aurelio Andreazzoli. Pablo Osvaldo and Francesco Totti, the main goal threats of Roma’s team last term, often looked isolated and Totti struggled to make any impact in games whatsoever until he dropped deep into Roma’s midfield, which was heavily reliant on Miralem Pjanic for creativity. So many times last season, Erik Lamela provided the difference for Roma. Picking up the ball from the right hand side, he would cut inside to his full-back’s weaker side an drive at goal, shoot, and more often than not, score. Whether Lamela would score or not, his electric pace and dribbling ability to frighten defences, and more pace would be injected into Roma’s sometimes rather static midfield.
This is precisely what AVB will want from Lamela at Spurs: pace, direct dribbling, and goals. Replacing the goals and influence of somebody like Gareth Bale as always going to be tricky, but with Erik Lamela, Spurs have signed a young, hungry, exceptionally talented who is more than capable of replacing at least some of the Welshman’s influence on Tottenham’s midfield. While Roberto Soldado will be tasked with being the finisher of Spurs’ team, and convert any chances we make for him, Erik Lamela will be told to take players on, create his own chances and score goals in a slightly different fashion. Between them, you would think Erik Lamela would more than cover Gareth Bale’s 21 Premier League goals from last season, and this can only be a good sign. I am extremely excited about the acquisition of Erik Lamela, and I can’t wait to see him bang the goals in at White Hart Lane. Make no mistake, Erik Lamela is a special young player.
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