Tottenham Hotspur are no strangers to missing out on key transfer targets, but there is one setback from their past which leaves a bitter taste: Chelsea’s hijacking of the proposed Willian deal.
In August 2013, the rivalry between Spurs and Chelsea took on a new dimension. In light of Gareth Bales’ departure, Andre Villas Boas turned to the transfer market for a replacement and identified Willian, then of Anzhi Makhachkala, as the man he wanted to bring in.
The Brazilian completed a Spurs medical and seemed set to sign for the club, but their fierce London-rivals hijacked the deal at the last minute, leaving Daniel Levy incandescent and Jose Mourinho in a typically smug mood as he suggested the Lilywhites had merely paid the price for not concluding the medical in secret, as per The Guardian.
But Spurs were not to be deprived of a new signing and the highly-regarded Erik Lamela eventually completed a move from AS Roma.
The manner in which the Argentine has developed under Pochettino suggests that the failed Willian bid was actually a blessing in disguise.
Chelsea’s hard-working winger has commanded huge levels of praise from time to time during his career in English football, but he has never managed to totally convince the Blues faithful and that is telling about his overall quality.
Lamela, valued at £18 million per Transfermarkt, has endured problems of his own, predominantly injury related. Those problems have persisted this season and limited his involvement of late, but he proved how far he has developed at the beginning of the campaign with a series of glowing performances, prompting Alasdair Gold to label him as the clubs ‘most lethal player’ in October 2018, per football.london.
Gold’s admission represented a true indicator of how far Lamela has come under his compatriot’s tutelage, with his determination to return stronger after every injury setback proving that he has the mental resilience to match his attacking prowess.
And, considering Lamela is four years younger than his South American counterpart, it’s fair to say that the Willian debacle can be considered as a blessing in disguise.