In the programme for Tottenham’s match against Crystal Palace, Erik Lamela featured as the big interview. The introductory paragraph states ‘When Erik Lamela has a run of games in the team he thrives.’ (Published 14/09/19, page 18)
So far this season, we have seen this reflected in his performances. He has scored twice and provided an assist (one of each at the Etihad) and was key to the opening goal in the North London Derby.
Performing in such big games is typically enough to win fans over, and have them demand you start in every game following. This is, however, not the case for the 27-year-old. Scrolling through Twitter will show the mass disdain at his inclusion in the squad.
Some fans seem to be talking about his inclusion in the team being a waste, calling for him to be sold after his six years at the club.
Spurs fans were expecting a tricky wide man to bring some flair and skill to the flank. Lamela arrived with a slender frame and was very easily bullied off the ball. This led to him only playing 327 minutes of Premier League football in his debut campaign (FootyStats), along with another issue which has blighted his career at Spurs; injury.
According to transfermarkt, Lamela has missed a total of 85 games for Spurs spanning 573 days. This has damaged Lamela’s ability to gain momentum in the side, consistently coming in and out which can be detrimental to his form.
Since joining in the 13/14 season, he has never played more minutes than in his final season at Roma (2600) or scored as many in a season (15) and has only registered more assists once (15/16 he registered 9 assists) (TransferMarkt).
In what was supposed to be his formative years, where he would really kick on and develop, it seems as though his most productive spell is behind him.
However, what we have seen is Erik Lamela’s role in the side change. Since joining Spurs, his defensive contribution has risen, especially in European competitions throughout the years.
Lamela has gone from a pacy, tricky winger to an aggressive, dirty player who is effective in his tactical fouls and getting under the skin of the opposition. He also claims to be ‘in love with the club’ (SkySports TwitterTalk) and that shows by his passion in derby matches.
I think the problem comes from a simple factor: Lamela’s place in the team means there isn’t a place for someone fans deem more deserving, for example, Eriksen, Lucas, Dele, etc.
When he performs, these haters go silent and have nothing to say. However, when Lamela is poor he receives much more criticism than the rest of the team. This seems to be due to the opinion that replacing him with one of his teammates would garner better results.
To summarise, I think Lamela is a useful squad player, he puts in a shift, he runs, he tackles, and he can contribute to some goals. I don’t think he’s in our best XI, and if the right offer came in, I wouldn’t be opposed to turning it down. I do think he gets unfair amounts of hate, and that flack should be spread further around the squad when we lose, with some players getting a free pass whereas Lamela picks up most of the flack.
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