What Does The Future Hold For Erik Lamela?
Erik Lamela’s first season at Spurs, in parallel with this season as a whole, has been one of great disappointment. Signed from Roma in August, Lamela seems to represent the plentiful nature of young talent in our squad without there being any great, world-class specimen. He has featured rarely, and his absence has become a great source of pain for Spurs fans. As we begin to hunger for a new start, I begin to question where exactly does the Argentinian go from here?
Let me give you the skinny. 21-year-old Erik Lamela, one of the top (if not the top) young talents in Serie A, signed for Spurs for £25.8million in August. He, together with Christian Eriksen, came to replace the departed Gareth Bale, last year’s Player Of The Year. The two players potentially and logically had what Bale possessed together: goals from midfield, flair, creativity and an eye for set pieces. The eyes of Spurs fans passively looked to Lamela for guidance.
With the weight of expectation on his shoulders, a burden shared by all of the summer signings, he was not planted straight into the first team, but eased in by Andre Villas-Boas, kept out by the bright but inconsistent Andros Townsend. Lamela and Spurs fans alike waited and waited and did a bit more waiting to see a performance from him. The wait briefly ended on November 7th against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League – a goal, an assist and a match-winning performance. This would be, arguably, the one and only time we saw Lamela at his maximum.
The Spurs fans were once again left starved of Lamela and starved of his talent. When AVB was sacked in December, some began to speculate that he could get his chance, get his moment he and we had craved. Sadly not. Either by injury or (allegedly) through Tim Sherwood’s over-zealous repression, Lamela has not featured in the first team since December 4th.
I have too waited and, like this season, I have become tired in my disappointment. “Thirty-million pound and nothing” is the cry from many a fan. “What a waste of money!” some would even say. The outrage and knife-wielding cries of our fanbase forms a clear, Machiavellin-esque purging of our squad, such a purging that even Stalin could be proud. Out the signings. Out the deadwood. Out Tim Sherwood. New man comes in. Chuck in a few expletives and that’s the gist of it, anyway.
This may just be me – speaking as someone who has brooded over this season in a melancholic state for four months since we sacked Villas-Boas – but I once again will state that the worst thing for this squad would be a purging. In that case, I believe Lamela stays. But what do I expect from the young winger? Bale-esque glory? 30-yard screamers? 90th minute winners?
I knew in my depths of my heart when we signed him that we were unlikely to get a top quality player in his first season in England. Across the road at Arsenal, the signing of Mesut Ozil has proved as inconsistent as any of Spurs’ signings, has it not? We took the gamble of signing Eriksen and Lamela, two young foreign players to replace Bale. One has flourished. The other has not. This is the cold, disappointing truth.
However, it is not ludicrous to state that Lamela has a chance to flourish next season. At Roma, he rightly rose to prominence in the team, labelled by many of their fans as ‘the next Totti’. He was versatile, operating both on the right as an inverted winger, and as a creative No. 10 on many occasions. He scored 15 goals and assisted five times in his last season in Serie A. Quite simply, you never gain a reputation as one of the best young talents in Europe unless you are really talented. Quite simply, there is no smoke without fire.
Erik Lamela has been absent in his debut season, both in his minute appearances on the pitch, and in his long time out of the Tottenham squad. A disappointment and a dead cert on many ‘Worst Transfers of the Season’ lists. It is my belief, however, that what will come of Lamela in his Spurs career will be no disappointment; he may even become extraordinary.
Last December, Lamela said in an interview to the Standard a telling quote: “I feel I need a bit of time. My moment will come and I will make the difference.” Let’s hope so too.