Erik Lamela is enjoying a sparkling season just a few months on from being unfairly labelled a ‘flop’ after little time to justify his hefty price-tag.
When large fees are paid for footballers, fans expect immediate repayment in terms of match-winning performances but it is easy to forget that said stars do not choose how much is paid for them, and recreating previous form at a new club, in a new country, surrounded by new players and customs, takes time.
Lamela’s breath-taking goal for Tottenham in the Europa League last week proved emphatically that Spurs are finally getting what they paid for. In fact, if he keeps on at this rate, they could be getting even more than they paid for, but that is a thought for another day.
For now it is worth considering the three factors that have seen Lamela go from zero to hero in the space of a few months.
As mentioned above, most footballers need time to settle following a move. Not all players, granted. But the ones who hit the ground running are the exception to the rule.
Lamela needed time and with that he has proved to be a very astute signing. It is also worth remembering that the Argentina international is still only 22. And yet he arrived at White Hart Lane with a weight of expectation on his shoulders that – temporarily at least – was too much for him.
Lamela was never a bad player. That was clear from anyone who had seen him play for his former club AS Roma. So Tottenham needed to be patient with him.
With patience comes reward, and after also overcoming his injury problems the faith shown in him by new manager Mauricio Pochettino is being repaid in bucket-loads.
The best players are also the luckiest, and there is no doubt there was an element of luck to Lamela’s first goal against Asteras. That he attempted it was pure confidence in his own ability – and a combination of the first two factors of his re-emergence – but that he connected perfectly and watched it fly into the goal...there is an element of luck to that.
But that is not a bad thing. When luck and talent combine, greatness occurs; and in Lamela, Tottenham have a player who could go down as a true great.