With the benefit of hindsight, I think it is now clear what Crowded House were trying to tell us all those years ago, albeit through the medium of painfully mediocre pop music. Whatever you do, do not let Erik Lamela out of your sight….otherwise you may never see him again. But we didn’t listen…..which is understandable, as Crowded House are bloody dreadful. But maybe we should have listened, because as a result, Tottenham haven’t been able to take Lamela anywhere with them for a very, very long time. Thankfully, his absence doesn’t seem to have significantly affected our performances, as we are still sitting in 2nd place with only 10 games left to play. However, this on-field success has actually detracted from what has increasingly come to be known as “the curious case of Erik Lamela”.
Now, Erik Lamela has long been a bone of contention for the majority of Tottenham fans. Some see him as one of the first names on the team sheet and a potential game changer whilst others believe that he is nothing more than an over-priced, silly haired liability. He is the footballing equivalent to Marmite for us Spurs fans…..not simply because you either love him or you hate him but predominantly because he has been impossible to locate since the Brexit vote! Regardless of where you stand on the young Argentine, it is hard to shy away from the fact that he was our second most creative player last season (behind Christian Eriksen), contributing nine assists, which was incidentally the same number as Kevin De Bruyne provided for Man City…..I’m just saying. However, nowadays Spurs fans only seem to talk about poor old Erik in the past tense, as he is proving to be more elusive than Madeleine McCann.
Obviously, footballers missing large swathes of the season is certainly not uncommon. 99% of these absences can be put down to injury or just being a highly rated young talent who was unfortunate enough to be managed by Jose Mourinho. But either way, the reasons are generally communicated to the fans and everyone is on the same page. However, the confusion surrounding Lamela’s whereabouts seem to stem from the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a coherent and consistent party line from the Club, as to why he is missing. “Coco” hasn’t played since October 25th, yet only now has it been reported that he is going in for surgery on his hip. Similar to anyone who has ever agreed to go for an innocent drink with Bill Cosby, I am really struggling to account for the last 5 months! And of course, this almost deliberate level of ambiguity has led to some wild and wacky conspiracy theories as to what has truly been going on. Some suggest that Lamela is homesick and wants to return to Rome (where he went for rehabilitation earlier in the year) whereas some claim that, similar to Saido Berahino, he was the latest professional footballer to have failed an informal drugs test and was subsequently banned for a short period of time. At this juncture, I should probably point out that our lawyers were very keen for us to exclude this rumour, as they were worried that it could be taken out of context. Apparently, they were very uncomfortable with the suggestion that Saido Berahino was still a professional footballer! Some rumours have even gone so far as to suggest that Erik Lamela never actually existed and was in fact just a figment of our collective imaginations. Although if this was true, I struggle to understand why Spurs fans would create a player whose end product is about as reliable as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7…..and nowhere near as explosive! How very Spursy of us all.....
In all fairness, you cannot dispute that “Coco” has been having a tough time of it this year. Firstly, his brother was seriously injured in motorbike accident back home in Argentina. This was swiftly followed by the death of his pet dog, so you can understand how this would have affected him mentally. Plus there seems to be a disagreement between Club and player about the nature of his hip injury….if he is even injured at all! Maybe these events have made him yearn for a return to former club Roma, a situation made all the more difficult by the fact that he only has 12 months left on his contract. However, based on the latest hospital bed pictures coming out of the club, I would be very surprised to see Erik Lamlea passing any sort of medical any time soon. And I for one, hope that he stays at Spurs, renews his contract and fulfils his potential, like every other talented young player has done for us this season. Because honestly, I don’t think that you truly realize how much we miss his non-stop, high octane pressing game until you are forced to sit through 90 mind-numbing minutes of Moussa Sissoko, a player who does not so much dribble the ball rather than mis-control it again and again. How we managed to spend $30m on this Arsenal-loving waste of space is the real conspiracy here, people! What does Mike Ashley have over Daniel Levy to have forced such un-Levy like behaviour so late in the transfer window? So, by the sheer nature of the fact that no one can be any worse than Moussa SIssoko, come back to us Erik.....all is forgiven. And I think I speak for Spurs fans everywhere when I say that regardless of whether you love him or you hate him, someone needs to bloody well find him first!