Erik Lamela is set to make his return to the Tottenham Hotspur first team this afternoon when Spurs play Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The Argentine winger, who for years was Spurs’ record signing at near £30m, has missed over a year of action through injury and after undergoing surgeries on both of his hips during his rehabilitation.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino opened up to the media about Lamela’s return, saying that he has missed his contributions to the side, and that Tottenham could really use his “hyperactive” presence right now as they battle for top four this season.
“I think we miss his energy. You can feel when he’s on the pitch he is always available to run, to press – and then with the ball he has the capacity to beat opponents.
“He was one of the players that was keen to do what we expected from the team [in terms of pressing when we arrived] because he has a massive energy. He’s a very energetic person.
“When you see him in the dressing room or restaurant he’s always moving. He’s hyperactive and that’s how he is on the pitch. He loves to run, loves to feel the ball at his feet. He always wants the ball: ‘give me the ball.’
“I think we miss him because he’s completely different to the options that we have in front. For the team it’s so important to have another option to play, to have the capacity to play in a different way.”
If you think back to Lamela during his heyday (the tail end of the 2015-16 season and beginning of 2016-17), Lamela had made himself one of the first names on the team sheet with his relentless work in the press, his high tempo, and his incisive passing. Poch is right in that it feels like the kind of energy that Lamela brought has been missing from the squad, especially in the past few Premier League matches.
The way Pochettino talks about Lamela ahead of today’s match makes me think we’re going to see Lamela against Leicester, though I’d still be surprised if he starts the match. It might be too much to expect to see “hyperactive” Lamela in his first match back, but hopefully we’ll see a rusty player with glimpses of the guy who rabona’d that shot into the back of the net a couple of years ago. We’ll find out in a few hours.