With Harry Kane having sealed a £100m move to Germany this summer, the Englishman’s exit eclipsed Tottenham Hotspur’s previous record departure – ten years on from the sale of Gareth Bale back in 2013.
The Welsh wing wizard was snapped up at the tail-end of that summer window by La Liga giants Real Madrid, with the Spanish outfit forking out a reported fee of around £85.3m, a sizeable increase on the Lilywhites’ initial £10m investment back in 2007.
The now-retired forward had warranted that interest after emerging as the undoubted talisman at White Hart Lane, notably bagging 26 goals and registering 14 assists in just 44 games in all competitions during the 2012/13 season.
Rather than attempting to fill the former Southampton man’s void with a marquee, high-profile replacement, however, Daniel Levy and co opted to instead spread the funds around, bringing in the infamous ‘magnificent seven’ to help bolster Andre Villas-Boas’ ranks.
Spurs’ seven summer signings of 2013
While that septet did include a certain Christian Eriksen – who went on to make 305 appearances for the club in all competitions – it was largely a tale of disappointment, with Roberto Soldado, for instance, netting just 13 goals following his £26m switch from Spain.
Among those who also failed to live up to the billing was Erik Lamela, with the Argentine winger – who actually spent longer at N17 than Eriksen – not making the impact that was expected at the time of his arrival.
Why did Tottenham sign Erik Lamela?
While the north Londoners did not actively seek a direct replacement for departing hero, Bale, it was suggested at the time that Lamela could prove the perfect solution, with club legend Ossie Ardiles having stated:
“He is not as powerful but he is more skilled than Bale. He has been nicknamed the ‘new Messi’ and that’s right – it’s a sign of how talented he is.”
That glowing praise from his legendary compatriot was an indication of just how highly regarded Tottenham’s new number 11 was, even though the player himself had moved to reject any comparisons to the shirt’s former incumbent.
Such rave reviews had no doubt been warranted amid Lamela’s fine form during his time in Italy for Serie A giants, Roma, having contributed 21 goals and 13 assists in just 67 games in all competitions for his previous employers.
That impact in Rome had only served to heighten the talk regarding the ‘next Messi’ – as noted by journalist Ian Hawkey – with it having been easy to see why Villas-Boas and Levy were so keen to get their man amid Bale’s departure.
How much did Tottenham pay for Erik Lamela?
While it was Soldado who had initially been the most expensive capture of that 2013 window – ahead of Paulinho – the purchase of Lamela saw the club break their transfer record once again, with the 5 foot 11 playmaker joining for a fee of around £30m.
Perhaps burdened by that hefty price tag, the Bale successor was unable to have the impact that he would have hoped for during his debut campaign in English football, having been ruled out for much of the season with a back issue.
As it proved, the marquee signing was something of a bystander to proceedings as he scored just one goal and provided only four assists in 17 games in all competitions in 2013/14, with rumours having been rife that summer that a move to Inter Milan was on the cards.
No such exit occurred, however, as the Buenos Aires-born enigma stayed put until his departure two years ago, although, despite that lengthy stay at N17, it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride for the left-footer from then on.
What went wrong for Lamela at Tottenham?
There’s no denying that the 25-cap Argentina international was capable of moments of genius during his time in Lilywhites, notably scoring that outrageous Rabona against Asteras in the Europa League back in October 2014.
The fleet-footed dynamo also replicated that attempt against bitter rivals Arsenal in 2021 – earning the famed Puskas award in the process – with such strikes serving as a reminder of the quality that the wideman did possess.
The problem was, however, that those flashes of brilliance were far too infrequent, with Lamela hardly proving himself to be someone whom the likes of Mauricio Pochettino or Jose Mourinho could rely upon.
Under Pochettino, in particular, the one-time River Plate star was unable to establish himself as a regular starter in the side, with the current Chelsea boss preferring a forward line involving Kane, Eriksen, Heung-min Son and Dele Alli.
The issue was seemingly his “inconsistency”, as pundit Paul Robinson noted amid Lamela’s impending exit, with the former England stopper going on to add: “Everybody knows the guy’s got heaps of talent. When you say about his injuries and his inconsistency, he never quite made it to the level of the player we expected.
“He was one of the players that replaced Gareth Bale. There were four or five players, weren’t there, that came in when Bale left. It was to try and fill these gaps.
“I’m not saying he was that player but he certainly had the ability to do things out of the ordinary. That’s the frustrating thing for managers, when you think you’ve got a diamond and the diamond only shines now and again.”
With 82 goals and assists in 257 games in all competitions for the club under his belt, the experienced asset finally departed in 2021 in order to join Sevilla, with Bryan Gil moving in the other direction.
Where is Erik Lamela now?
That return to Spain has proven rather fruitful for the 32-year-old as he boasts a haul of 22 goal involvements in just 81 appearances in all competitions for his current employers, including netting twice in only six La Liga appearances this season.
The £55k-per-week asset was also particularly crucial during the Andalusian side’s shock Europa League triumph last season after scoring twice and registering two assists in eight games in the competition, with two of those goal contributions coming in the semi-final victory over Juventus.
After years of pain at Spurs, the ageing talent was finally able to end his search for silverware, making a positive start to life in his new surroundings so far.
That impact in Seville is an indication that the ‘frustrating’ talent has certainly enjoyed a respectable career, although those prior comparisons to the iconic figure of Bale do now look rather foolish.