Why Jose Mourinho Likes Tottenham’s Argentinian Star

Jul 25, 2018; San Diego, CA, USA; Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Erik Lamela Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 25, 2018; San Diego, CA, USA; Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Erik Lamela Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Erik Lamela is a player than can divide opinion within the Tottenham base, however, based on the opportunities he is given, Jose Mourinho likes him, why?

Erik Lamela is a talented footballer who stands out from the crowd among the Tottenham Hotspur team. It is not his penchant for colored hair or mohawks that makes Lamela standout, rather it is his attitude. On a team comprised of what Jose Mourinho terms ‘nice guys’ on the football field Erik Lamela is anything but a nice guy. The aggressive nature of Lamela’s play is just one of the things that surely endears the Argentine to his Portuguese manager.

Lamela the Irritant

There is no doubt that on the football pitch Erik Lamela is annoying. He is the kind of player people loved to have on their team but hated to play against. Willing to come in hard at any moment on an opponent, Lamela is equally adept at going down without a lot of contact. So, on the one hand you have an aggressive, hard nose tackler of the ball who will never back down from a 50/50 ball. On the other hand, always looking for contact, Lamela is not afraid to play up push and go down to get a free kick.

Such is the story of Erik Lamela, a do as I say, not as a do type of defender, which is exactly what Tottenham needs. It was Erik Lamela who got under the skin of Anthony Martial, drawing the contact that led to the Frenchman’s sending off at Old Trafford in Spurs 6-1 win. It was Erik Lamela who responded quickly against Manchester City last season scoring the distance goal on the offline Ederson.

Lamela is the same player who came in hard on Dwight McNeil this past week in the victory over Burnley. Then as McNeil was receiving treatment Lamela took a water bottle from the treatment team’s bag. I am not saying Erik would kick someone while they are down, but he really brings an attitude that Spurs need, and he always brings it. If Spurs were to divide up for a brawl, I am on Lamela’s team.

Trusted for Jose and Tottenham

The reality is, when healthy, Erik Lamela is the kind of player you always want to have in your squad. Whether you are chasing a goal and you need his activity and creativity or you want to keep the lead and need him to help annoy on the press, Lamela can and will do it.

If Erik Lamela is on the field, the one thing we all know is that he is going to play hard and try and contribute. Lamela has 82 goals plus assists in his 230 games for Tottenham Hotspur, so he can score and create goals. Such as the hockey assist on the corner for the Burnley game winner, or who could ever forget the rabona. Alternatively, since the 2017-18 season Lamela has pressured the opposition some 897 times, either stealing the ball or leading to a turnover 251 times, a near 30% clip, according to fbref.com. This pressure along with a high volume of tackling attempts makes Lamela the opponent you keep your eye on.

It is important to understand that the irritating fouls and knocks that Lamela inflicts on the opposition are not out of any kind of intent to harm. Rather, Lamela brings a certain energy that sometimes is a bit too much and ends in more aggression than less. In 230 games for Tottenham Hotspur, Erik Lamela has committed 293 fouls, nearly 1.3 fouls per appearance, according to whoscored.com. Despite all those fouls and his penchant for irritating others, Lamela has never received a red card with Spurs or in his professional career.

38 times with Tottenham Lamela has receive a yellow card and not once has he received a second. While he knows there are rash challenges and commits them from time to time, he is certainly not foolish in his play, which has kept him on the field.  Erik Lamela can aggravate, irritate, and annoy, but it is all done with control, which is what separates Lamela from the goons of the game.

As we all know, Erik Lamela is anything but a goon, as he has incredible skill and a proclivity for flair. That skill gets your attention, that effort keeps it, which is what Jose has noticed. As people continue to ask why does Dele not play or why Lamela does play, it really comes down to the effort and intensity. With the clear competition for places at Tottenham Hotspur now, those who want it the most will take it. Erik Lamela clearly wants it all the time and Jose Mourinho would likely have it no other way.