Spurs made seven major signings in the summer and although some have settled quicker than others, a few of them may take more time, even if they do carry a hefty price tag. £107 million departed, talk of a title tilt was being whispered around the streets of White Hart Lane but perhaps was being shouted more loudly from people outside of the club.
Except for one thing. Football doesn’t work like that. You can spend millions and get nowhere; you could alternatively spend peanuts and get very far. Just because Spurs spent a large sum of money on European starlets doesn’t mean success is guaranteed.
It should also be pointed out that they broke even this transfer market, making £111 million in players sold this window. A fact frequently overlooked.
One player in particular has made a quiet start to life in north London. He is Argentinian and has been hailed the ‘new Messi’ by several people in the game. Sometimes these tags are ridiculously inaccurate, this one isn’t because boy is he talented.
I am talking about Erik Lamela, the £26.4 million wonder boy Tottenham signed from Roma, who as of yet has registered two assists in seven – mainly cameo – appearances for his new club. I can’t decide personally whether or not that is a decent return for the 21-year-old.
The bigger picture though is that you might not see the ‘real Erik Lamela’ for three months; actually scrap that, it may not be until another year. Tear away the footballer epidermis and he is just a young man who has moved to a new country, where he doesn’t speak the language, to a team full of relative strangers.
It is a scary experience and just because he is getting paid thousands of pounds a week to deal with that experience doesn’t make it massively easier.
When he first moved to Roma, he didn’t set the world alight but he did show glimpse. Sensational glimpses to warrant this quote.
“I hope [Erik] Lamela will be my heir,” said the Roma captain and legend Francesco Totti. He won’t be but for the Rome legend to say that during the young man’s debut season in Italy gives an example of his ability.
Six goals was all he managed during that debut Serie A season not a great return but Lamela was adjusting to a new team and a new system. Sound familiar? His following and final year in Rome is why Tottenham supporters should get giddy with excitement over this lad.
‘Coco’, the attackers nickname, scored 15 times in 36 appearances and created five goals for Roma last year. To put that into some context, Gareth Bale scored 12 goals and made 13 during his penultimate season at Spurs, this was in 42 appearances.
Lamela needs time to adjust to English football but when he does he will show Tottenham fans why the club paid such a large amount for him. The stat that he hasn’t played more than 28 minutes in one Premier League game implies Villas-Boas doesn’t think he has settled yet. Once he does he will set the world alight.
The form and success of Lewis Holtby provides an example to Tottenham fans that good things come to those who wait. Lamela will hope to follow the German’s example. The former U21 captain joined Spurs last Janaury – earlier than expected – for a cut price £1.5 million. He had agreed to join the club in the summer but a deal was thrashed out with his then parent club Schalke for him to come six months earlier.
Holtby didn’t make a great impression, he was extremely enthusiast and looked like he really loved the club but what fans appreciate more than anything is performances on the pitch. Two assists in seventeen matches wasn’t an amazing return for someone deemed a star.
Yet this year we are seeing the real Holtby. He is showing how good he can be. Fans may point out that he is playing in his favoured position now but the main thing is that he is familiar with his teammates and understands their runs and roles in the team.
He has been nothing short of sensational in his eight games this season and his return of one goal and five assists demonstrates that. Lewis Holtby’s form is why Tottenham fans should stay patient. I’ve focused on Lamela but could easily name other players Villas-Boas has added to his squad. Out of all the new additions the Argentine is, arguably, the most exciting.
Holtby needed eight months to settle at Tottenham but now he is blossoming, do not be surprised if in a year’s time we are talking about Lamela being among the best in the world, because he will get there, he just needs time.