Erik Lamela: Player Profile

The Latest Addition Of Tottenham’s Big Name Signings - Erik Lamela 

Tottenham fell painfully short of a spot in the top four and a Champions League berth last term. The club has done a nice job of rebuilding their attack during the summer, with Erik Lamela the latest marquee signing.

Personal information
Full name:  Erik Manuel Lamela
Date of birth:  4 March 1992
Age:  21
Place of birth:  Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height:  1.83 m (6 ft 1)
Playing position:  Forward

Club information 
Current club:  Tottenham

Youth career:  River Plate

Senior career: 
2009–2011: River Plate 36 Appearances, 4 goals
2011–2013: Roma 65 Appearances, 21 goals

National team
2011–2012 Argentina U20 4 Appearances, 3 goals
2011– Argentina 3 Appearances, 0 goals

This time Tottenham did not take any chances. After seeing Willian slip through their fingers despite having already taken a medical in north London, the club made sure that there could be no repeat in Erik Lamela's case. It had been reported in Italy that the player would travel to England last Wednesday night before completing his transfer to Tottenham. But before he had even left Italy, Roma published a statement confirming that Lamela had already been sold.

The deal cost Tottenham €30m (£25.7m) up front, plus a further €5m in potential bonuses. That represents a tidy profit for Roma, who paid an initial €12m to procure the player from River Plate just two years ago. Both sides knew already that he was worth more, but the Argentinean club were in little position to negotiate after being relegated for the first time in their history.

Barcelona had tried to sign the player much sooner, approaching Lamela at 12 years old after seeing him dominate at a youth tournament in Spain. They offered his family a reported €120,000 per year to relocate to Barcelona, plus a further €8,000 in sponsorship money from Nike. But Lamela and crucially, his parents preferred to stay put. He joined River Plate's academy after the club offered a high school scholarship to him and his brothers. Back then he was a pint-sized prodigy, standing 5ft tall. Scouts worried about whether he would grow strong enough to handle the rigours of the adult game, but even so they could not stop obsessing over his speed and close control. Those remain Lamela's defining traits, even though he now stands a lean but muscular 6ft 1, weighing in at just over 69kg’s.

Growing up he played more five-a-side football than anything else, and it is clear that this has had a formative impact on the way he plays the game. Few forwards can navigate their way through a packed defence more effectively. According to statistics, Lamela dribbled past opponents 99 times last season, the third-most of anyone in Serie A. Gareth Bale, for what it is worth, did so just 59 times in the Premier League. Such numbers betray a selfish streak as well, and there is no question that Lamela is prone to holding on to the ball longer at times than he should.

Indeed, Lamela's whole first season in Rome was frustrating. An ankle injury caused him to miss the start of the campaign and once he did appear the player tended to flutter in and out of games. At his best, though, he was devastating, scoring five goals, including one on his debut against Palermo. Francesco Totti publicly stated that Lamela could become his heir. The following season would serve to reinforce that belief. Appointed as manager in the summer of 2012, Zdenek Zeman sought to use Lamela in much the same way as he had deployed Totti during his first stint at the club in the late 1990s. Where Totti, a right-footer, had been placed on the left with freedom to drift inside, Lamela, very much left-footed, was lined up on the right of a three-man attack.

From there he could, and did, cut in to devastating effect, gliding past defenders and opening up his body to curl shots towards the far corner. Lamela would go on to score 15 goals in 33 league games, including a run at one point of six in consecutive matches. Only one Roma player, Rodolfo Volk, had ever got to seven in the club's history.

Lamela still has room for improvement, of course, and most notably in the defensive side of the game. He was lax at times in tracking back for Roma, and it will be up to Villas-Boas whether to demand more from him in that department or simply position in such a way that his responsibilities are reduced.

The raw materials are there, however, for Lamela to become a special player. "If Lamela doesn't turn into a champion it'll mean that I'm a donkey and I'll have to get a new job," said Roma's director of sport, Walter Sabatini, last year. Expect Lamela to slide right into the starting lineup with Soldado, Paulinho and Co. to build some much-needed chemistry.

Lamela should fit in perfectly at Spurs and will be an immediate factor as the club looks to build off its positive start to the new campaign.