Erik Lamela Can Be Tottenham's Star in Unlikely Top Four Push

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Erik Lamela Can Be Tottenham's Star in Unlikely Top Four Push
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

With Liverpool spending well over £100 million on players this season after the sale of Luis Suarez, the general phrase that gets dragged out by football pundits is that they are potentially "doing a Tottenham."

After all, Spurs managed to receive a world record transfer fee for Gareth Bale last year and used that money to bring in a number of players designed to replace just one man.

When bringing in stars from overseas, there's often the potential for them to endure a slow start to life in the Premier League. The pace of the league is markedly different from any other in Europe, as is the physicality of the league.

A club record fee doesn't exactly help relieve the pressure on a player, either, and this is exactly the situation Erik Lamela was thrust into last year. Lamela was a star during his two seasons at AS Roma, scoring an impressive 19 goals in 62 games (a tally which isn't a particularly bad return from midfield).

Unfortunately, 2013/14 didn't exactly go to plan for a player Spurs shelled over £27 million out on. Simply put, Lamela's first season in England was nothing short of a disaster. He struggled to hold down a place in the side due to form and injuries and only made nine Premier League appearances last campaign.

However, some of the Premier League's finest ever players have endured slow starts to their careers in England, before coming out of the traps firing in season two. And Spurs fans will be hoping that is exactly what is going to happen to Lamela: If the first two games are anything to go by, Lamela could be the jewel in Tottenham's crown this year.

The race for the top four looks incredibly crowded this year, with many expecting Manchester United to rejoin the party after a year away last year. Throw Everton into the mix, too, and it's incredibly difficult to see just how Spurs can even get a look at the Champions League places.

But with a new manager (and new impetus), Spurs look genuinely capable of making progress this year, and heading toward a return to Champions League football. Although West Ham United and QPR are hardly the toughest tests they'll face this year, you can only play who is in front of you in football. And to that end, Spurs have looked very, very impressive so far in 2014/15.

With Mauricio Pochettino in charge (a fellow Argentinian), Lamela has thrived in a more advanced role so far this season, and he looks to be finally finding his feet in England. Two games and two assists (with a match rating a fraction under 8.00, per WhoScored.com) is a solid start. With the more fluid style of football Pochettino has brought to Tottenham, Lamela seems to settling into the new season very nicely indeed.

In fact, he could well turn out to be the secret weapon in Tottenham's bid for the top four. It would have been quite easy for Pochettino to look at his record with form and injuries last year and simply move Lamela on, but he has rightly shown some faith in the silky Argentine.

He's averaging well over 80 percent in terms of his passing accuracy, and his incredible dribbling ability looks to be just what Tottenham need in terms of their attacking go forward. With the lively Nacer Chadli alongside him, Lamela is going to surprise a lot of fans who wrote him off last year.

And if he continues in this rich vein of form, it is simply impossible to write Tottenham off from an unlikely top-four finish.

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