Whether it's because of his hit-or-miss performances for Spurs or simply a byproduct of the silly season, Erik Lamela is once again being connected with a return to Serie A, with Inter Milan, Juventus and Roma all reportedly vying for his signature. Lamela, in case you'd forgotten, played for our beloved Giallorossi for two seasons, during which time he made 67 appearances and scored 21 goals under the stewardship of Luis Enrique, Zdenek Zeman and Aurelio Andreazzoli.
Apart from his stunning rabona in a recent Europa League fixture, Lamela's time with Tottenham has been rather non-descript; Coco has only made 24 appearances in all competitions with Spurs, finding the back of the net on only three occasions. Suffice it to say, Franco Baldini's £30m investiture in Lamela has looked like a tremendous flop. But, Coco is still only 22-years-old, and as his rabona showed, there is a hell of a lot of talent in those young legs. So, might a return to Roma be the panacea for Lamela's London lethargy?
Since it's Sunday and you ain't got shit to do, let's take a look...
Why This Move Makes Sense
While the Zeman effect must be accounted for, there is no denying it, Lamela's time in Roma was a resounding success. We delved into Lamela's ascendency just before his departure last summer (ironic, huh?), but the salient point was this: Lamela, at only 21-years-old, was on his way to becoming one of the game's elite attacking talents.
During his lone season under the Bohemian, Lamela flourished, as his 15 goals not only led the club but tied him for 15th across Europe's major leagues. Beyond mere goals, Lamela proved to be a highly effective shooter, both in terms of accuracy, volume and conversion. Furthermore, his one-v-one and playmaking skills both fell in Serie A's top five and Europe's top ten. Even if we attribute part of that to Zeman's tactics, those are still absurd returns for a kid in his early twenties, particularly one barely a year removed from South America.
Looking Back at Lamela
Looking Back at Lamela
Despite his lack of goals for Spurs this season (and ever, I suppose), Lamela does have four assists in 11 Premiership appearances and is currently averaging 1.74 key passes per 90 minutes, second to only Christian Eriksen. So, though he has become somewhat of an enigma, the Lamela we knew and loved so dearly appears to be lying dormant, waiting for the perfect moment to spring back to life.
Imagining The Apple slotting back in with Francesco Totti and Miralem Pjanic is sure to warm the cockles of your heart, but, reality aside, would it even make sense?
Why It Doesn't Make Sense
I can think of three reasons, and they each have a name: Adem Ljajic, Alessandro Florenzi and Juan Iturbe. In a vacuum, this move simply doesn't make sense. As currently constituted, there is no room for Lamela on this roster, Iturbe cost too much money and is far too young to give up on, while Florenzi's versatility and native blood buys him all the time in the world, leaving Ljajic as the only possible make weight for this potential move--in terms of like-for-like swaps because no one wants to see Kevin Strootman sold to finance a move that would, for all intents and purposes, be redundant.
If the cost alone wasn't enough to scupper this reunion--which could still cost upwards of €20-€25m--let's consider the fact that Ljajic may be the superior player; a fact upon which we have expounded numerous times in these spaces. Love him or hate him, Ljajic is obscenely talented and Rudi Garcia might find a way to use him just yet.
But we're football fans, so let's talk about that angle; would Lamela even fit in with this crew? Has he dispatched his occasional selfishness while languishing on the bench for Spurs? Would he be able to work without the ball to a greater degree than he did under Zeman? How would he pair with Gervinho?
While his god-given ability is unquestioned, there was a reason Roma let him go in the first place, he simply may not have been the best fit for Garcia's brand of football, which emphasizes selflessness and accentuates off the ball movement.
Likelihood: 2 out of 10
While there are reasons aplenty for this reunion, the pangs of nostalgia may be looming large. Lamela's fantastic performance was one of the few bright spots of Zeman's return to Roma. In form and function, Lamela had the looks of not only a superstar, but a global icon; he was a bridge to Roma's post-Totti existence, a player upon whom we could rely not only for points, but for pride and passion.
However, if the past year has proven anything, it's that the nature vs nurture debate rages on; was Lamela's eye popping numbers in 2012-2013 products of his preternatural talent or a factor of Zeman's balls-to-the-wall approach? In actuality, it's probably a little from column A and a little from column B, but at a cost still approaching €30m, uncovering the truth may not be worth it.