Tottenham Hotspur duo Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela have been named by Sky Sports pundit and Evening Standard columnist Alan Smith as two players who must raise their game in wake of Gareth Bale’s return to Spurs.
The 31-year-old rejoined Spurs on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid in mid-September, a move which saw the media spotlight shine brightly on the white half of North London.
Bale has been working his way back up to fitness after picking up a knee injury on Wales duty prior to his switch to Tottenham, and continued to train with the club during the international break.
On Thursday, shared a picture of the Welsh ace in training alongside coach Ledley King, plus the caption “all eyes on Sunday”, a possible hint towards a role against West Ham this weekend.
Bale’s arrival means fellow attacking players like Lucas and Lamela may find themselves pushed down the pecking order, and Smith has urged the £80,000-a-week duo to step up and give Jose Mourinho food for thought.
“Naturally, some like Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela will be wondering where this leaves them,” the former Arsenal man wrote in the Evening Standard.
“How many games will they get with the new man on board? Well, chaps, it’s time to respond, time to raise your game to give the boss food for thought.”
With Bale’s high-profile return to Tottenham, there’s no doubt that players like Lucas and Lamela, who weren’t exactly first-team regulars before the Welshman’s arrival, now have a harder job on their hands for first-team minutes.
However, added competition can be very healthy, as we’ve seen with Serge Aurier stepping up his game following Matt Doherty’s arrival, and there’s no doubt that we’ll see similar from the two 28-year-olds.
All of which is great for Mourinho, who has had his fair share of bad selection headaches since his arrival and will welcome positive selection headaches as players work harder to stake their claims for a starting spot.