Roma’s transfer business over the past summer was a mixed bag. On one hand, selling Marquinhos to PSG for £27million is a no-brainer, so too is replacing him with Mehdi Benatia from Udinese, one of Serie A’s best centre-backs over the past few years, and using the surplus on Kevin Strootman from PSV.
Then it went a little off course – at least that was the view at the time. Erik Lamela was seen to be the spearhead of anything good Roma would put together this season; the club had missed out on European football the past two seasons, but the Argentine youngster’s rise has been particularly promising.
It was confusing and it made little sense to swap Lamela – and Nicolas Lopez, who went to Udinese in the Benatia deal – for Gervinho and the retaining of Miralem Pjanic; though with the last-minute addition of Adem Ljajic, Roma’s business of revamping their attack looks far from poor.
But Tottenham’s new signing may look back with even more regret and heartbreak now than he had when he initially signed with the north London club. He had expressed a desire to stay in the Italian capital, breaking down at the prospect of moving away. Now, he looks over at a team who are flying high in Serie A, playing with incisive and unrelenting force, and must think what could have been.
Since moving to Tottenham, Lamela hasn’t really made a splash of note in the Premier League. It’s been a steady integration of the club’s new players by Andre Villas-Boas, and perhaps that is the sensible approach, keeping some form of balance and continuity from last season.
The Spurs manager has instead opted to use every other newcomer, and the improving Andros Townsend, instead of Lamela – at least from the start. Of course, Lamela has experienced a scare in his personal life, being made aware that his brother had been kidnapped in his native Argentina, and that is possibly forcing Villas-Boas to keep an eye on the player.
What is well off the mark, for the moment at least, is the idea that Lamela is being wasted at Tottenham. It’s October, and like the case with Roberto Soldado, there will be time for the newcomers to fully assert themselves in English football. Lamela is a supreme talent who is capable of becoming Tottenham’s talisman in the future; he hasn’t lost his ability since swapping Italy for England, but it will take time.
But then we don’t really know what is going on behind the scenes at Tottenham. Talk of Lamela has been pushed to the side, with the focus instead going towards the good defensive play by the team – prior to the loss to West Ham – and the promise of players like Christian Eriksen. There shouldn’t be any doubts as to how effective or even useful Lamela will be in the future; Tottenham certainly wouldn’t have placed such value on him if he wasn’t to be an integral part of the setup. Remember, of all the good buys Tottenham made in the summer, it very much looked like Daniel Levy, Villas-Boas and Franco Baldini were on the same page.
Lamela had been a hugely impressive prospect while in Argentina, though his first season in Italy brought only four league goals. It was only in his second year when, much like Gareth Bale in the past, he was given a freer role, though not entirely released from positional responsibility, where he began to hit big numbers. He’s only 21, and for all his talents, even he will need time properly adjust to a new lifestyle.
Are Tottenham wasting the talents of Erik Lamela?
Join the debate below