Is Tottenham’s Erik Lamela ready for stardom?


Erik Lamela has spent the majority of his Tottenham career as the punchline to the jokes of his own Club’s fans. Burdened by the weight of his Tottenham record transfer fee he looked more like a new born foal than an Argentinian international on the pitch. Suddenly though, Erik Lamela isn’t so funny anymore, but can he become a Premier League star?

As an avid Spurs fan, I have watched Lamela over the past two plus seasons with greater at interest. My emotions have run the gamut with the attacking midfielder. I was elated at his signing, defensive of him during his injured first season and saddened by his efforts last season. Early this year, I’d almost lost hope in his development. Then, something happened.

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Perhaps it was his rumored sale to Marseille right up until the Transfer Deadline, maybe it was just the natural progression of his obvious talent, but whatever it was changed the trajectory of his career. His play went from timid, lost and soft to inventive, optimistic and productive. He began playing at such a high level that even the most optimistic Tottenham fan was forced to rub their eyes in disbelief.

His last four matches have been outstanding. has his performances averaging above 8.0 and feature a high of 8.76 in the Spurs 4-1 win over Manchester City. The youngster once criticized for lack of end product even has contributed three goals and an assist over the same stretch. What’s more frightening is that by watching him it’s easy to see that he has created even more opportunities to score than he has converted. It’s not difficult to imagine Lamela having five or six goals instead of just three. There can be no question that his recent form has been at the level of Premier League stardom but his challenge now is to play at that level over the course of an entire season.

Finding a way to perform at a high level for months rather than weeks is what separates nice players from superstars. I have genuine doubts about Lamela’s ability to take this step this year. He has several flaws that will require significant work to correct and they must be addressed before he can be called a star. The most notable flaw is that he is still guilty of giving the ball away too frequently.

Even in this brilliant run of form we have seen these errors. Fortunately for he end the Club, he does typically minimize the damage by working to win the ball back. His work rate to win possession is in fact one of his best attributes. Nonetheless, you don’t see stars like Hazard, Mata, Eriksen and Sanchez give the ball away as frequently as Lamela. He must clean this up to reach those heights. It also can lead to problematic fouling that could easily limit his time on the pitch.

His other large challenge on his road to stardom lies between the lad’s ears. You can almost see the gears grinding away in his brain on the pitch at times. He still is caught between two minds all too often when he is involved in the counter attack. It’s no coincidence that his best flourishes of late have been when he begins and finishes the break. If he is involved in between the probability of Tottenham success decreases quite quickly.

Erik Lamela is a young player whose progression has finally begun for Tottenham. The frightening thing about him is that even as he is playing at an extremely high level, there is still much to correct in his game. The good news is that his faults are fixable with time and Lamela has shown a willingness to work hard and face adversity already.

He won’t become a star in the Premier League this year but I wouldn’t bet against him achieving that status with one more year under Mauricio Pochettino’s tutelage. Fortunately for Spurs, even if he doesn’t reach stardom this season he can still be a very key cog in their push for a place in the top four.

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