New Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is confident that Erik Lamela will put his difficult debut season behind him and impress this time around.
The Argentine became Spurs’ record signing last summer as he arrived from Roma in a £30m deal and was widely tipped to fill the void left by Gareth Bale’s move to Real Madrid.
However, the silky attacker – once dubbed the new Lionel Messi – failed to settle in England, making only a handful of underwhelming performances before missing the second half of the campaign with a troublesome injury.
A move back to Italy was mooted in January, and the youngster was once again linked with a switch to Serie A this summer with Inter Milan rumoured to have been keen.
But Pochettino says that his compatriot is a key part of his plans now he’s bedded in at White Hart Lane, and that he believes the 22-year-old will show his worth:
“It is important to know that Erik is still young and it is difficult to adapt to the Premier League,” he told The Guardian.
“It is the most difficult league to play – the style, the language, but now, after one year at Tottenham, we believe that Erik is ready to show his quality.”
Pochettino went on to suggest that Lamela may be used in a more central role after being played on the wing under Andre Villas-Boas:
“It depends on the situation whether Erik will play as the No10 or wide,
“My philosophy is to give a free style with a good organisation and not only with Erik, with other players.
“The most important thing is to create a good shape for our players to be comfortable and to show their real qualities.”