Is Tottenham's Erik Lamela set for a breakout season after his goal against Everton?
Tottenham have the most settled squad in the Premier League and there is no pressing need for further reinforcements. The squad building at White Hart Lane should act as an example to clubs trying to break into the top four, as they have put together a squad filled with some of the best young talent in Europe. The huge upside to doing this is that they should develop together as a team, as well as progressing as individuals. Last season, they had a great season and they could improve once again this campaign. One player who could finally have a breakout season is Erik Lamela, who joined the club for £30 million in 2013.
There were signs towards the end of last season that he was going to become the player we expected him to be after he joined Spurs from Roma. In his last seven Premier League appearances, he has had a hand in seven goals (three goals, four assists). His goal during the opening weekend showed that he has taken his end of season form into the new campaign, which will please Tottenham supporters.
Erik Lamela joined the club with a lot of pressure on him, partly due to his fee, but mainly because he was seen as Gareth Bale’s replacement. This was unfair on the Argentine as he was only 21 and had to adjust to a new league. The Premier League is known for its physicality and the differing styles that exist within the league. This has taken Lamela some time to adjust to, but he is now emerging as a dangerous player for Spurs. He is still only 24 and Spurs are being rewarded for showing faith in Lamela over the last three seasons. Throughout pre-season, Lamela looked to be the most dangerous player that Spurs had in attack and a lot have been tipping him for a breakout season.
His rise to prominence vindicates the policy being employed at Tottenham and patience needs to continue to be shown from both the board and the fan-base. The collection of young talent at the club they have is second to none in the league and they have an excellent coach spearheading the project. Mauricio Pochettino needs to be given credit for how he has managed Erik Lamela since taking over at the club. He has shielded him from criticism and played him in a role that suits him. Spurs signed him after his impressive 15-goal season at Roma and he is starting to return to the form he showed in Serie A.
During the opening match, Harry Kane and Dele Alli both struggled, which could show signs of a Euro 2016 hangover. It is difficult to carry the expectation of a country and face the over-the-top criticism when it goes badly, especially at a young age. It was a damaging experience for both and it will take time for them to return to the level they showed last season.
This places more emphasis on Lamela to contribute in the final third and he looked to be in great shape against Everton. It would have been easy for Lamela to shrink and go missing like some of his team-mates, but he stepped up. He recognised that his side needed him and he scored the equaliser. The Argentinian international could have scored a second on another day and his performance will be a concern for Crystal Palace this weekend.
Against Everton, he attempted three dribbles and had three shots on goal. He failed to make any key passes, which is an area he needs to work on. However, he was a goal threat throughout and he looks set to start the season as he finished the last one. Crystal Palace will come to White Hart Lane after a poor performance in their opening match and could be there for the taking. Although he has showed signs of improvement, Lamela has struggled for consistency since arriving in England. He needs to add that to his game this season if he wants to fully live up to his price tag and it is matches like the one on Saturday that he needs to have an influence in.
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