Seven new signings, one world-record sale and over £100 million spent, there is no doubt that the summer transfer window of 2013 will go down as one of the most memorable transfer windows in the Club’s history. However, the success of that window is still being hotly debated. On the one hand, the purchases of Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli look a masterstroke, but on the other the purchases of Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches look unmitigated disasters. Then there is the £30 million man, Erik Lamela, a player who is a master at showing flashes of brilliance but at the same time frustrates so much. Brought in to replace the Real Madrid-bound Gareth Bale, he drastically failed to live up to the hype last season. This season, managed by fellow countrymen, Mauricio Pochettino, Lamela’s performances have significantly improved. However, Lamela is probably the most frustrating player Tottenham have. He clearly has so much talent but he doesn’t show it regularly enough.
When Lamela first signed for the Club in 2013, much was expected of the Argentine. Hisdebut came against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, where he came off the bench for the last ten minutes of the match. He looked bright and looked like someone who would excite the Tottenham fans during the season. How wrong we were. Lamela failed to make any sort of impact for the rest of the season. In fairness he wasn’t helped by the mid-season change of manager and at the tender age of 21 the fans underestimated how long it would take him to adapt to the new culture of the UK and to the Premier League. However, it was striking even given these circumstances just how poor he was. He was out of the squad for so long in the second half of the season that “Erik Lamela-missing” posters went viral. Even Tottenham fans, having had to endure a miserable season, had to laugh. It seemed possible that Lamela, given how little impact he had made, might leave the Club in the next summer transfer window. However, seventeen appearances and one goal in all competitions meant that Daniel Levy knew he wasn’t going to recoup anywhere near the £30 million that the Club had spent on him.
This season, having adapted on and off the field and having had a full pre-season, Tottenham fans were waiting to see whether we would see the “real” Erik Lamela. Pochettino, a fellow countrymen, said when he took over that he believed in Lamela and this has been something that he has reiterated throughout his short Tottenham career. Lamela has definitely improved this season, even if the stats don’t suggest a huge improvement. Thirty appearances in all competitions has meant he has been more of a significant figure in the Tottenham squad this season, but just four goals in all competitions and only one of those coming in the league is still a drastically underwhelming record. However, Lamela has brought into Pochettino’s philosophy and that can certainly be seen in the last few matches. Against Arsenal and Liverpool, Lamela was terrific, creating chances, moving the ball quickly, making aggressive challenges and pressing the opposition consistently. Those sorts of performances will rightly endear him to the Tottenham fans. Lamela can still offer more though. He has so much potential to terrorise the opposition and he doesn’t use it and that’s what makes him such a frustrating player.
Lamela is improving, and is certainly a much better player than what we saw last season. However, Lamela has to do more of what he was brought to do. Assists and goals are what he needs to contribute to the team. When he does then we can start discussing whether he was worth the £30 million price tag.
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