Very few players divide opinion more than Erik Lamela. The tricky Argentine is viewed as a genius by some and a busted flush, possibly even an idiot, by others. With Lamela stepping up his recovery from injury there is an air of confusion what role, if any, he still has at Tottenham Hotspur.
The club tweeted shots of Lamela in training this week to ease concerns over rumours his recent injury lay-off would end his career. He has been out with a knee problem since October last year and rumours he initially refused treatment until December only served to anger fans. The player and the club have both denied these allegations.
Latin flair and a Latin temper
One of the 25-year-old’s greatest attributes is his creativity and dribbling, the latter of which, though unorthodox, is highly effective and cleverly creates space for others. Apart from Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, the current Tottenham side doesn’t really have any real areas of creativity, so he will add to the squad when he returns. During his last full season, Lamela recorded nine assists and created 75 chances in the Premier League. This kind of talent has been missing from the current Spurs side, with the team struggling to break down sides who “park the bus”.
Another of Lamela’s strengths is his work rate, but he often lets himself down by turning this into recklessness. On too many occasions, he has allwoed opposition defenders to get out of tricky situations by diving in needlessly and giving away silly fouls.
Lamela arrived at Tottenham as part of the notorious “Magnificent Seven“, in reference to the seven players signed by the club following Gareth Bale’s departure. Of those seven, only Eriksen has been a definite success, with four flopping and Nacer Chadli proving himself to be inconsistent before his departure. Lamela has certainly surpassed Chadli, but he is nowhere near Eriksen.
Although the fee has since been beaten, the £30 million given to Roma to acquire his services was at the time a record for Spurs. When Lamela returns to action, he will have to establish himself as the second definite success of 2013’s summer signings to justify his price tag.
It is impossible to talk about Erik Lamela’s time at Tottenham without making reference to his iconic ‘rabona’ goal in the Europa League. It is the perfect example of the sheer brilliance of which he is capable, but he does need to start to produce moments like it on a more regular basis. He has produced a handful of other memorable moments, but it is consistency which he now needs to add to his game.
Lamela has been linked with moves to both MLS and China. Both of these are well below his level, and considering many Chinese clubs are in debt due to the ridiculous fees and wages they have been throwing about, it is unlikely that Tottenham would recoup any more than half of the fee they paid Roma.
Since finding a replacement within the club’s price range would be nigh on impossible, from a financial aspect it would be best to give the Argentine at least another season. Tottenham need another creative player and he fits the bill. Lamela is likely to be given substantial game time once fit, which will be a huge chance for him to fulfil his potential.