At a time when Spurs seem to be flying in the league, it would seem they do not miss Argentine Lamela, but the evidence may suggest otherwise.
Lamela was one of Spurs’ key men in their impressive title chasing side last season, but injuries have curtailed any further improvement this term. Everyone will remember Lamela’s start to his Spurs career, and even the most die hard of Spurs fans will admit his first two seasons at the club were mediocre at best.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
In his first two seasons at the club, in 42 Premier League games, he scored just two goals and assisted 8 times. Not what the club and the fans expected from the man assigned to fill the shoes of Gareth Bale. Especially when you consider his £30 million price tag. Most people could see however that Lamela had potential, but he struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game, not being helped by the fact he could not speak a word of English. It got to the stage that he was close to leaving the club on deadline day in 2015 to Marseille, if Spurs had got their man Berahino, Lamela would be plying his trade in France.
It is fair to say times have certainly changed. Last season, Lamela scored more goals than his previous two combined, averaged more assists and chances created per game. The club is starting to see the best from Lamela, with his absence through injury really showing how much he is missed at the club.
Lamela has not played for the club since the EFL cup game against Liverpool in October, and whilst results have not particularly suffered, one thing is for sure, Spurs would have more points if Lamela was fit.
What Spurs have missed
It is not just Lamela’s attacking ability that is heavily missed at Spurs, it is his work rate and defensive abilities that make him such a crucial cog in the Pochettino machine. With Pochettino demanding such a high pressing intense style of football, Lamela is the epitomy of this. Rarely will you see Lamela stop running in a match whether that be defending or attacking.
Compared to players in a similar position last season like Mahrez and Mane, Lamela won (and lost) more tackles than the pair. The defensive side of modern day wingers is often overlooked, but this is a key feather in Lamela’s bow. Of course for a winger his attacking play must be good as well, and it is. Lamela is a creator in the Spurs side, and when Christian Eriksen is not performing, Spurs can look to Lamela to create, who is always looking for a defence splitting pass.
In big games he can also be counted on. He scored in Spurs’ 4-1 demolition of Manchester City at the Lane last season. He crucially assisted Eriksen’s winner at the Etihad, whilst also scoring against Manchester United. In the last three games Lamela has played against Arsenal, the team has been winning when he has come off and ended up drawing.
Despite still struggling with a hip injury, Spurs will be hoping Lamela can get fit as soon as possible and show the sort of form that made him so crucial to the side last season.