Since arriving from Roma in the summer, Erik Lamela’s Tottenham career has stuttered and puffed. In fact, the Argentinian has been close to leaving the North London club in recent weeks. So far, the 21 year-old has played 17 matches in a Spurs jersey, scoring once and setting-up his team mates on three occasions. In terms of an immediate impact, it’s a paultry return on the club’s record fee of £30 million, but Lamela doesn’t seem to be one for immediate impacts.
Take his first season with Roma for example, which was also his first in a European league. In 33 matches, Lamela scored six goals to compliment his seven assists. This may be considered modest for a teenager in his first season, under you realise he was up against some of Italy’s brutal defensive ‘lumberjacks’. Although it should also be observed that his goals came against newly-promoted or below-par Serie A sides and not against the elite Italian clubs.
This, however, is not a reflection of the player’s true abilities, as his second season with Roma demonstrated. His 15 goals all came in Serie A, including twice against AC Milan in just over an hour. He became unplayable, ghosting in from the right and landing perfectly weighted shots into bottom corners.
At international level, he shares the same blessing and curse of many of his compatriots. Despite being included in such a famous football side as Argentina, he has stars like of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero taking much of the spotlight.
The most obvious issue for Lamela, and one that many football fans have observed, is Serie A is not the same as the Barclays Premier League. Struggling to adjust, Lamela has been forced onto the bench on eight occasions so far this campaign. From what can be gleamed from his performances, Lamela has been looking to tee-up his colleagues and may have been too unselfish at times.
While his three assists are all well and good, Tottenham were looking for someone to provide a similar scoring outlet as Gareth Bale. The overdependence on Bale from last season has only made Lamela’s life tougher, as fans unconsciously (if not consciously) expect similar performances for a man that cost a third of Bale’s transfer fee.
What’s more, the early season form of Tottenham Hotspur was counterproductive to say the least. Even if Lamela had laid it on a plate for Roberto Soldado, the striker’s poor form and that of those around him, played a big part in the Argentinean’s displays.
The appointment of Tim Sherwood has seen Lamela disappear from the starting-eleven, leading to the aforementioned transfer speculation. From a purely footballing perspective: Lamela shouldn’t be expected to score every match, as it’s primarily the job of the strikers. Clearly this is the legacy Bale has left behind.
Having spent a record fee on Lamela, it seems ludicrous to sell him when there is clearly so much potential left unexplored. Fans only need to look at his matches for Roma to know what they’ve got their hands on. In terms of a like-for-like replacement for Gareth Bale, Lamela is not that kind of player but instead more of a typical winger with equally impressive passing and scoring abilities.
Physically, Lamela seems ready for English football, so it can only be the psychological aspects that are holding him back. Tottenham’s formation is nowhere near as attacking as Roma’s which could explain why Lamela is rarely seen in the penalty area.
When he has attacked the goal, his close control has been good and he’s shown a willingness to run at defences. The most notable change to his game is his lack of confidence. Once he’s passed one defender, he lacks the conviction to shoot at goal. This is something that can only be improved with time and positive performances.
The first half of the season may not have gone to plan for Erik Lamela, but of all the players in Tottenham’s squad, he is the one worth persevering with. The Argentinean is in a new country with new challenges and is one of the youngest players in the first team. It’s time for fans to cut him some slack and be patient.
Have something to tell us about this article?