Few could argue that the jury is still out on whether Erik Lamela can cut it in the Premier League. A generally unimpressive first season blighted by injuries caused many to brand the young Argentine a flop and question the wisdom in parting with the best part of £30 million to bring him to the club last summer.
With a full pre-season behind him and a manager that clearly believes in his ability, many were predicting a big season for Lamela, and whilst there has been a clear improvement in his performances this year he hasn’t quite managed to find the consistency required at the top level.
Lamela has embraced Pochettino’s ‘high press’ philosophy and closes down the opposition quickly (if sometimes a little clumsily) at every opportunity and some of his interplay with Eriksen, Chadli and others has been a joy to watch. Although not slow, he is not blessed with explosive pace and rarely beats a man one-on-one. He has a tendency to give the ball away and when given time on the ball sometimes gives the appearance of not knowing what to do with it. However, when he gets the ball under pressure in the last third of the pitch he comes into his own. He has phenomenal close control and an eye for a quick incisive pass, as shown by his performances earlier in the season against QPR and Southampton and numerous cameos in the Europa League.
That said, it is Lamela’s performance against Asteras Tripolis on Thursday night that has got pundits talking and has excited Spurs fans with a further insight into his potential. Despite a fairly average performance, Lamela lit up White Hart Lane with his two goals. The second was a searing volley which sat up nicely for him following some excellent close control in the box and a blocked right foot shot. The first, however, was a goal that we will be talking about for years to come. As the ball came to Lamela on the edge of the box, he instinctively wrapped his left leg behind his right and whipped the ball in the top corner with his left foot, leaving the opposition and team mates alike stunned. Yes, the quality of the opposition was dubious and it was against a goalkeeper who on this performance was only marginally better than Harry Kane, but the level of skill required to generate such pace and accuracy, never mind the sheer audacity to try this in a professional match is mindblowing.
How Lamela follows this up against Newcastle on Sunday will be interesting. He strikes me as a ‘confidence-player’ and hopefully this will give him the boost he needs to tale his performances to the next level. One thing’s for sure, his display on Thursday night has confirmed him as a true Spurs player – yes he will make mistakes, but as long as he works hard and keeps trying to entertain the crowd we will love him. After all, to dare is to do…
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