Following the world-record sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, Tottenham splurged over £100million on seven foreign signings in a bid to negate the Welshman’s departure.
This ploy has publicly blown up in the North London club’s face, with the likes of Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches failing to make an impression at White Hart Lane and subsequently being sold on.
Of the remaining three, Erik Lamela is seemingly under the most pressure to justify a sizeable price tag – but there are signs that the Argentine is finally starting to show why Spurs were so keen to splurge on the former Roma attacker.
Given the fact that the River Plate youth graduate plays in a similar position to the outgoing Bale, the expectation on Lamela’s shoulders was at an unenviable level upon his arrival.
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Injuries and the necessary time needed to adapt to English football and life all-but negated the South American’s first campaign at Tottenham, while last season he failed to consistently prove himself to the club’s fans.
However, there is no doubting Lamela’s technical abilities and the signs are there that this season could well be the young star’s break-through campaign.
During his time at Roma and at times last term, the 23-year-old displayed dazzling individual skill and an eye for a pass that will only improve as he develops his game. Lamela also started to chip in with goals and assists towards the end of 2014-15, with this continuing this season.
A man-of-the-match performance in the superb 4-1 win over Manchester City recently appears to be a statement of intent from the Argentina international, proving that he is capable of performing at the highest level against top opposition.
Perhaps more encouraging for Pochettino and the Spurs fans is his attitude of late, which appears to show that the South American is doing everything in his power to fit in at White Hart Lane.
A naturally slender player that has had issues adapting to the more physical brand of football in England, Lamela has worked harder, put more tackles in and undertaken the more unsavoury elements of the game that an attacking midfielder usually looks to avoid.
This has been noticed and appreciated by the Spurs fans, who have encouraged the Argentine in his efforts.
Lamela has also conducted post-match interviews in English and looks like a player that will only get better under the tutelage of his compatriot manager and in a young and hungry Spurs group.
While new signings Clinton N’jie and Son Heung-min look set to be used in other positions and Alex Pritchard remains sidelined through injury, Lamela has only Andros Townsend as current competition for the role on the right-hand side of midfield.
The England international was introduced from the bench in the Argentine’s place in the 2-2 draw against Swansea last time out, but selfish play and a lack of end product infuriated the travelling support.
As such, the emphasis is on Lamela to real pin down the right-wing berth, perform consistently and become an important member of the Spurs team.
Although more patience and time is required, Lamela is currently Tottenham’s best option in this role and has shown the desire and ability to be a star in Pochettino’s starting XI over the last month.