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Darren Lewis: Erik Lamela’s last stand

17 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: Erik Lamela’s last stand

The Daily Mirror sports writer asks if the Spurs winger will stand up to the challenge thrown down to him by manager Mauricio Pochettino

Good on Mauricio Pochettino for calling him out.

Now, will Erik Lamela respond?

Had Spurs managed to land Saido Berahino from West Brom on transfer deadline day, their record £30m signing from two years ago would have been moved on already.

Instead, a switch to Marseille was scrapped at the last minute, the Argentinian is back at White Hart Lane and the next four months represent Lamela’s last stand.

Pochettino has demanded a consistent run of form to counter the widely-held belief (including his own) that the former Roma winger is far too lightweight for the English game.

Should that materialise it will represent a dramatic improvement on anything we have seen from the 23-year-old, who scored just two Premier League goals last season.

Soon after he arrived Ossie Ardiles said this: “He is not as powerful but he is more skilled than Bale.

“He has been nicknamed the ‘new Messi’ and that’s right – it’s a sign of how talented he is.”

Yes. You read correctly. Even the Gareth Bale thing was clearly stretching it a bit as the two cannot even be mentioned in the same breath in terms of ability.

That said, to be fair to the legendary Ardiles, there was a lot of optimism surrounding Lamela when he was signed and he has failed to live up to the hype.

He arrived from Roma having scored 15 goals in 33 games and was touted as the man to heal the wounds left by Bale’s departure to Real Madrid.

He has a decent bank balance to show for his move to England, a Rabona in the Europa League last season, and not much else.

Early on Andre Villas Boas defended him on the basis that, understandably, he needed time to adapt to a new country, a new culture, a new League and a new club.

Tim Sherwood, who succeeded AVB mid-season, had no time for the fact that he went missing when the going got tough.

But Pochettino went easy on his fellow countryman in a bid to give him every chance.

7/4 – Erik Lamela to score against Qarabag

Even before last term had ended, however, the word was out: Spurs were willing to cut their losses.

They were ready to listen to offers for the man for whom they had broken the bank two years ago.

By the end of the summer Lamela’s father also gave an interview in Italy where he revealed his son wanted out, he should never have come and that he was talking to other clubs.

Now, with all parties now well aware of where they stand, there is no more need for kid gloves.

Lamela has a chance – and a run of games – to either go out with a bang in the January transfer window or prove his many doubters wrong by finding his stride.

There was a period, during the 2-2 draw at home to Stoke last month, when his introduction summed up the reason why so many people, both inside and outside White Hart Lane, are frustrated with him.

There were 26 minutes left, Spurs were two up but Kane had missed a sitter and was uncharacteristically ceding possession.

Lamela was sent on to replace him. Spurs may as well have continued with 10 men.

He could not keep the ball, he couldn’t pass the ball and although he can’t be blamed for the lapses in defence that allowed Stoke to snatch a point, he became a focal point for a lot of anger both during and after the game.

The truth is that in two years he has not improved one iota as a player. He has been a bitter disappointment.

It will be interesting to see how (and if) he responds to the gauntlet thrown down to him by Pochettino.

There is still time for him to turn it around. It really does depend now on whether he wants to.

Tottenham v Qarabag betting