Erik Lamela might have already played his last match for Tottenham Hotspur. The Argentine forward, a key player for Spurs last season and in the first part of 2016-17, has been out with a pernicious hip injury since October and has yet to return to full training.
Now Matt Hughes, writing for the Times (£), says that Lamela has told his teammates that he won’t play again this year, and there are now doubts whether he’ll ever suit up for Spurs again in a competitive match.
The Argentina forward, who has not played for Tottenham since the EFL Cup defeat by Liverpool in October, has told friends that he will not feature again this season, but Spurs insisted last night that such a prognosis was premature. Lamela has spent much of the intervening period in Buenos Aires and Rome rather than at the club’s training ground.
The Times has learnt that there has been a disagreement between Lamela and the club over whether he requires surgery, leaving the 25-year-old in limbo as he prepares to enter the final 12 months of his contract.
To be clear, we don’t know exactly what’s wrong with Lamela. We know that he’s been dealing with a hip injury that, for whatever reason, refuses to heal properly. The little we’ve been able to glean from club statements and media reports are inconclusive as to what exactly is going on, which has led to wild speculation from possible surgery to a degenerative hip condition that could eventually end his career. But, we simply don’t know.
The Times suggests there’s disagreement about surgery, but we also don’t know whether it’s the club that’s advocating Lamela go under the knife, or Erik. My guess is the club wants surgery, but Erik doesn’t. Either way, it sounds as though original plans for a contract extension have fallen through, and the Lamela’s now in limbo until at least the summer. That, plus the fact that Lamela only has a year left on his initial Spurs contract, has led Hughes to speculate that the might be open to selling Lamela in the offseason.
We have joked (with frequency) on CFC about Lamela being “dead,” but in truth this whole story is just tragic. Spurs are (purposefully) vague about player injuries, and it’s unlikely that we’re ever going to get a clear statement from the club about such a sensitive issue.
Lamela’s absence would almost certainly necessitate Spurs re-entering the transfer market for another wide attacking midfielder this summer. Lamela’s role as a high-energy, pressing playmaker suited Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics perfectly, but Spurs have been able to cope with his absence thanks to Son Heung-Min. However, with Lamela out and Moussa Sissoko seemingly in the doghouse, Spurs face a potential depth issue at that position in 2017-18.
All the sad faces.