The Erik Lamela Dilemma

Tottenham Hotspur fans split on where Argentine fits in
14:47, 21 Aug 2019

Erik Lamela is a very divisive figure at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

It's fair to say the Argentine attacking midfielder hasn't justified his labelling as Gareth Bale's replacement since his £30 million move from Roma to North London in 2013.

But while a section of Spurs' fanbase would like to see the back of him, Mauricio Pochettino is loath to get rid of the man known as "Coco" - and he's been in the starting XI for the Lilywhites' two opening Premier League games this season.

Tottenham have a fond history when it comes to Argentinian players, with Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa being two of the club's all-time greats (less so with regards to the likes of Maurico Taricco and Federico Fazio!), but Lamela is hardly a legend as things stand.

Pochettino is, of course, from Argentina himself - and some supporters believe it's that connection that's saving Lamela from the chop.

Spurs have compatriots Paulo Gazzaniga, Juan Foyth and Giovani Lo Celso at the club - and they were coveting Juventus star Paulo Dybala over the summer - so there's definitely a precedent for Poch favouring his fellow countrymen, but is that why the manager persists with Lamela? Could there really a be a national bias?

Lamela's had his moments in a Spurs shirt, there's no doubt about that - and there are some fans who would like to keep him at the club.

At the start of last season, he looked like a world-beater - and who could forget that 20-yard Rabona back in 2014 in the Europa League? More often than not, however, he's flattered to deceive, hasn't contributed enough in terms of goals, and has spent far too much time injured.

Make no mistake about it, though, Lamela is a senior Argentina international with 25 caps. He has plenty of ability - and on his day he knows where the goal is.

He's tenacious and gives his all for Spurs - but that aggression is what makes him a liability in some people's eyes. Those people believe he's always a mere moment of madness away from a yellow card, a second yellow card, or a straight sending off.

In Spurs' thrilling (and perhaps fortuitous) 2-2 draw at Manchester City, Lamela bagged himself a goal and an assist, which certainly justified his selection.

As a squad player - which is what he's expected to be once Spurs have a full quota of fit attacking players at their disposal - he's undoubtedly an extremely useful asset to possess. But is that enough, given the money spent on him, the time he's had to make a more emphatic impact, and the fact that he's now 27 years old?

Lamela has played 131 Premier League games for Spurs, scoring only 15 goals and, in all competitions, he's scored 30 goals in 189 games. That's simply not good enough.

The 2019-20 season could be the player's last chance to shine at Spurs before even Pochettino loses patience with him. But if he can remain consistent - even with productive performances from the bench - he may still cement a positive legacy at the club.