Is Tottenham’s Erik Lamela the modern-day Darren Anderton?
Picture the setting of a game show. The host asks if you are familiar with a youngster who joined Tottenham at the age of 21. A 1.85m tall winger who predominantly plays on the right, but can also do a job in attacking midfield. Someone who could have gone on to become an all-time great if not for injuries. Specifically speaking, injuries that reared it’s head in his fourth season at the club.
You smirk because it is so simple and answer confidently – “Erik Lamela”
Silence follows and you hear the beep. And then it dawns on you that the description could very well have been of another Spurs legend who shares eerie similarities with our Argentine star – Darren Anderton.
Signed from Portsmouth in 1994, Anderton was one of English football’s hottest properties at the time. His pace, skill, and exciting running at opponents made scouts and national newspapers sit up and take notice. The sight of the attacker in his signature hairstyle and long-sleeved shirt bamboozling defenders is a sight that fans of the 90s will remember with nostalgia.
Tottenham eventually won the race for him and he made the move to White Hart lane for £2million in the summer of 1992. He formed a devastating attacking trio alongside Teddy Sheringham and Nick Barmby and went on to make his England debut in 1994.
Now firmly established as an international, Anderton stepped up his performances for Spurs alongside Jurgen Klinsmann and Sheringham has an exciting season saw him linked to the likes of Manchester United.
He chose to stay and ended up missing most of the 1995-96 season due to injury. Anderton still made the England squad for Euro 96 and played a key role in the Three Lions’ run to the semifinals. He almost put his side in the finals, but could only watch on as his extra-time strike against Germany hit the post.
A constant barrage of injuries overshadowed what should been a brilliant career as the layer never really got to the level expected. His ability was never in doubt as much as his susceptibility to get injured.
He continued to give his best on the pitch whenever available and starred in the run-up to the League Cup success in 1999. Speak to Spurs fans who watched the winger in action and most will recount a tale of what could have been.
Anderton stands on the fringes of the players who defined the first decade of the English Premier League. A supremely talented player, he rubbed shoulders with some of the best talents in the world and held his own.
He is still one of our best players in the Premier League era but could have been so much more. After all, he came to within a whisker of being declared a national hero in 1996. It is unfortunate that such a talent can be surmised with one-word today – injuries.
Is history repeating itself?
Lamela arrived at White Hart Lane in 2013. A player who at the age of seven was offered a deal by Barcelona seen as similar to that of a young Lionel Messi, the Argentine’s capture was seen as a coup of sorts.
Similar to Anderton, he started off slowly before going on to establish himself as a regular. He promised to kick on and was one of the best players in our squad before suffering a serious hip injury in 2016.
Lamela played 119 times for Spurs before that injury and just 92 times since. A prodigiously talented player, he now looks to have failed in reaching the levels expected of him.
He regularly reminds viewers of his immense talents with a slew of audacious moves and goals. The effect he has on our attack when he plays is visible even for a casual observer as he adds drive and panache, and unpredictability at times.
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Lamela has scored a number of important goals for Tottenham and has even changed the flow of games in our favour. Yet, you ask a number of fans to describe him with one adjective and they will respond with ‘injuries’.
Similar to Anderton, Lamela too has an eye for the spectacular and has lit up nights with a number of audacious goals. The Argentine is just as much if not a bigger talent than his English counterpart. Still just 28, he yet has time to create a different path for himself.