Erik Lamela had a horrible time last year and he has subsequently become a standing joke for the sneering element of football’s online community.
How nice for him.
Anyway, he’s fit, training again, and - according to his Instagram account - enjoying life a bit more. Here’s part of a recent interview he gave to Tottenham’s official website (via F365):
“I feel really good,. I feel fit and I hope it will be a good season ahead.
I hope to show everyone what I can do, especially for the fans and of course for the club. I’m grateful to the fans for their affection, that’s very important for me.
Hopefully I will get the chance to play and then I will try and perform as well as I can.”
There is no one factor which determines whether a foreign player will be successful in England, but committing to the pursuit of Premier League success is a vital part of that process. Periodically we see players come to England for the money, find the reality a little bit too taxing, and run away at the first opportunity - and it’s very encouraging that Lamela doesn’t seem to be among that number.
His disastrous 2013/14 probably cost him a place at the World Cup and it arguably damaged his reputation in general, and so it would have been very easy for him to look for a way out as soon as possible. And maybe that would have been understandable? He has an enormous transfer-fee around his neck, he’s had a lot of difficulty adjusting to English life, and he’s suffered the first significant set-back in an otherwise meteoric career.
There’s been - reportedly - interest from Italy, and had he pushed hard enough he could probably have panicked Tottenham into trying to retrieve their investment. It must have been very tempting to back to return to a league in which, to a certain extent, he’s already a proven commodity.
He isn’t doing that, though, and he deserves some respect for being willing to grit his teeth and fight back against the false perception that has been created.
Lamela will need more than just that to ultimately justify that £30m transfer, but it’s an excellent start - and a symptom that he really is equipped to go a long way in the game. He looks under-sized and delicate, but maybe this a more mentally resilient character than we appreciated?
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