London - Tottenham Hotspur have been relatively quiet in the transfer market this summer but record signing Erik Lamela looks as though he could inspire a top-four challenge - a year late.
The Argentine was signed for 30 million pounds before last last season but was virtually invisible as he struggled to adapt to the Premier League after signing from AS Roma.
The attacking midfielder made only three starts in the Premier League and scored only one goal in all competitions, against lightweights FC Sheriff of Moldova in the Europa League.
Fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino's arrival as manager has provided him a fresh start, however, and the 22-year-old from Buenos Aires is showing early signs that he could help Tottenham improve on last season's disappointing sixth place.
He started against West Ham United last weekend as Spurs began with a hard-fought 1-0 victory and came on as a substitute on Thursday in the Europa League at AEL Limassol, helping his side overturn a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 in Cyprus.
Lamela said Pochettino had helped him rediscover his verve.
“He has helped me a lot of times,” Lamela was quoted in the Daily Mail ahead of Tottenham's home match against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday. “But, really, it depends on me.
“It is down to me, how I train, what I do in training and in matches. Then I think he will put me on the pitch.
“I will play wherever he puts me. It is a challenge for me because last season did not go as I had hoped: the injuries, maybe because I was not 100 percent.
“These are things you have to overcome and change yourself. You always have to improve. I don't know how far I can go but I will try my hardest to make my team win.”
“When I was injured, I was not good. I was not happy. I now feel 100 percent. I am happy to be playing football again and helping the team.”
Pochettino said Lamela should not be judged on his disappointing first season in English football.
“He was very disappointed about last season but the past is the past,” he said.
“With confidence and time he will show his value.” – Reuters