Erik Lamela’s career at Tottenham was like a expensive box of chocolates. Some of it left a bitter taste in the mouth and other parts weren’t to everyone’s fancy – but there were always a handful of moments that went down a treat.
The Argentine midfielder joined Spurs for £30million from Roma in 2013 as part of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ that were recruited using Gareth Bale’s £85m sale to Real Madrid – but eight years later he has still not managed to come through on his massive potential.
Lamela has joined Sevilla in a swap deal with young winger Bryan Gil this week, but the fact he was thrown in alongside a £21m transfer fee shows he was no longer held in the highest esteem by the north London outfit.
Erik Lamela’s eight-year spell at Spurs has been a rollercoaster after sealing a move to Sevilla
The Argentine has left in a swap deal, with Spaniard Bryan Gil (right) heading the other way
No player stays at one club for nearly a decade without being valuable – and Lamela has made his fair share of contributions to the club with 37 goals in more than 250 appearances, but there have been some unsavoury incidents that have weighed down on his time at Spurs.
Tottenham fans have vented their frustration at Lamela’s failure to knuckle down a regular spot and hit the mark more often, but they won’t deny he captured what it means to be a Spurs player – attacking with flair, wowing the crowd with his skills and having a tenacious edge.
Sportsmail takes a look through the good, the bad and the ugly of Erik Lamela’s rollercoaster ride at Tottenham.
Rabonas, sumptuous strikes and silky skills
It perhaps sums up Lamela’s time at Spurs that his two biggest highlights are rabona goals, but there isn’t really anywhere else to start is there?
We’ve seen players try to pull off this audacious piece of skill numerous times with mixed results, but actually score one? It’s almost unheard of.
Enter Erik Lamela, who grabbed two during his time in London.
His first was arguably the most spectacular but came against minnows Asteras in the Europa League. At a rocking White Hart Lane back in 2015, the away side had failed to clear their lines following a Spurs attack and a loose ball fell to Lamela just outside in the box in the centre of the D.
He always opted for the spectacular and netted two rabona goals during his time with Spurs
Instead of taking a first time shot with his right foot, as any normal player would do from that angle, he opted to wrap his stronger left foot around the back of his right, with his shot curling into the top right hand corner and sending the stadium into delirium.
It was such a ridiculous goal that left-back Ben Davies was left stunned with his hands on his head after watching the effort go in.
His second rabona didn’t look as special as the first, but it came on a big occasion against Arsenal and still required a lot of invention and skill to pull it off in a north London derby. Sergio Reguilon had hit a first time cross to the feet of Lucas Moura, who flicked it back for Lamela.
His second came against Arsenal which saw him nutmeg Thomas Partey as he struck home
Lamela was capable of great skill but they covered over the cracks of an inconsistent spell
He also netted a famous goal in a 3-0 thrashing over Manchester United in 2015
Just like against Asteras, the angle was wrong – but it didn’t matter as he brought his left foot over once again and hit a low drive into the corner that ended up nutmegging through the legs of Thomas Partey. Some might say it was the better of the two just for that alone.
Lamela enjoyed his first senior hat-trick against Monaco in December 2015, and in the same season he clinched a famous win over Manchester United – who can forget Martin Tyler’s iconic commentary when he screamed his name.
He always kept fans on the edge of their seats with his energetic dribbling style – and became known for his chipped finishes, as well as a couple of beautiful curlers – the best of the bunch coming against Burnley in 2014.
Fitness issues and frustrating form
Lamela will argue that he will have turned out as a success at Tottenham were it not for a series of niggling injuries that kept him out for long spells and disrupted his progress in north London.
According to Transfermarkt, the Argentine missed out on a whopping 133 games during his eight year stay at Tottenham, picking up problems from head to toe as he struggled to remain in peak condition.
His most severe issue was a hip injury that kept him out for 57 games – keeping him out for more than a year and causing him to miss most of the 2016-17 campaign.
His progress was constantly hampered by injuries and once missed more than a year of action
He has also suffered a handful of hamstring and calf problems – the latter of which saw him ruled out for 12 games last season.
That lack of momentum from a fitness point of view looked to seriously hamper his prospects of consistent form for the team. In his last season at Roma in 2012-13, Lamela smashed in 15 goals and brought with him excitement that he could be one of Tottenham’s main goalscorers.
But he failed to score more than five goals in any Premier League season – managing 11 in all competitions in his most prolific campaign in 2015-16, which saw him feature 44 times.
Fans often aired their frustration at his failure for consistency and lack of regular goals
Ultimately, Lamela was rarely one of the first names on the teamsheet and was instead mainly used as an option off the bench or a man to be rotated in for the cup competitions. He managed just eight goals and four assists in his last two years.
Many fans have accused him of overdoing things with too much skill and failing to play things simple.
Petulant behaviour, diving and dirty tackles
Lamela had a fiery nature to his play – that’s what made him unique, and it certainly went down well with Spurs fans when he would square up to a rival player during a big derby game.
Supporters will laud him for his strong tackle on Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere – with the midfielder chasing after the former Roma man, who simply chuckled as he was led away by his team-mates.
But his aggressive nature hasn’t always been seen in a good light and he has come under fire for what has been perceived as petulant behaviour on the pitch – including diving and run-ins with players.
Lamela angered United last season by diving in an incident that saw Anthony Martial sent off
He received his first red card in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal in March – overshadowing his previous heroics following his rabona effort
Man United fans were furious with Lamela during Tottenham’s 6-1 win last season when he flicked him arm out to Anthony Martial’s face, with the Frenchman retaliating by lightly swiping him back. The Tottenham star then dropped to the ground dramatically, with the Red Devils man being shown a red card.
But no one was more angered than United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was scathing of his antics.
‘You cannot go down like that and it’s an absolute joke for me that a lad can stay up for five seconds before he decides to go down,’ he said after the game.
‘If that was my son he’d be living on water and bread for two weeks. That’s not how I want my players to act.’
His racked up a reputation for diving after he went down with little contact against Liverpool to win a penalty in 2018
Lamela picked up plenty of yellows with Spurs – 41 to be precise – but he was only sent off once, and it ended up making him a villain of a story where he started off as the hero. After putting Tottenham ahead against Arsenal with his superb rabona last season, he received his marching orders towards the end of the game for a second yellow card.
It was reckless too – shoving his hand into the face of Kieran Tierney as their bitter rivals ended up winning the game 2-1.
Followers of Chelsea and Liverpool will also recall their fury at Lamela in recent years.
He was accused by Virgil van Dijk of diving to win a penalty in 2018 that helped rescue a 2-2 draw. Replays showed there was minimal contact and hordes of Reds supporters called for Lamela to face a lengthy ban after the game.
‘I see him [Lamela] coming in the end and I try and hold my leg in, he just pulled his body in front of the ball and he goes down,’ said the Dutchman.
Lamela played on the edge and entertained fans but it’s a crying shame he didn’t achieve more
And in the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’ against Chelsea in 2015, Lamela was one of many Spurs star putting the boot into the Blues as their title hopes faded.
Tottenham imploded on the night at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea rescued a 2-2 draw to hand the Premier League crown to Leicester, and Lamela was guilty of deliberately treading on Cesc Fabregas’ hand – an offence that should have resulted in a red card.
Lamela’s time with Tottenham was the most mixed of bags – but if he was anything, he was an entertainer. Fans affectionately called him ‘Coco’ – his family nickname, and he’ll be fondly remembered for being part of Tottenham’s own family.
It’s just a shame he won’t go down in the club’s history for anything more.