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Short, left-footed, technically gifted Argentines are a hot commodity in the world of football. Beginning with the unrivaled trickery of Diego Maradona twenty years ago to the present day footballing wizard that is Lionel Messi, there is something to the reputation that warrants investigation. A third player in a similar mold has been brought to attention in recent weeks: a superbly gifted trequartista that just seems to be begging for a suitable home this summer. Erik Lamela may be quite young but he has already demonstrated that his future is bright.

Lamela is nineteen years old and has a left foot that is truly noteworthy. He plays as a classic number ten, a trequartista, but is also capable of playing wide positions as well as center roles. He’s currently an important player at River Plate, and despite just breaking into the starting eleven eight months ago, his reputation has already begun to grow. The likes of Athletico Madrid, AC Milan, Lazio, Napoli, and Roma are all reportedly interested in the player as the sides look to strengthen for next season.

It seems odd but despite still being in his teens, Lamela has been courted by clubs for nearly a decade. Nine years ago Barcelona themselves tried to sign the player only to have their deal fall through. Instead, the youngster chose to stay in his native Argentina with his beloved River Plate, where he has been ever since. In retrospect, the choice seems to have paid off immensely. Instead of potentially sitting on the bench for a large part of his career, Lamela has been given the opportunity to start games and gain crucial match experience.

Despite his young age, he already has nearly all of the attributes expected of a trequartista. He’s quick with both his feet and mind; he can dribble, pass, and shoot with ease and reacts superbly to whatever’s in front of him; his brain seems to read the game at a much more rapid pace than his opponents, who often result to fouling him to stop him in his tracks. He’s especially renowned as a midfield maestro who can take a superb free-kick, and is thus River Plate’s first choice for set pieces. In other words, his young age belies a fantastically mature approach to the game.

However, the youngster does have areas in which he could improve: his acceleration is lacking in terms of explositivity, for example[1]. His jumping has also been found wanting in the past and is an area upon which needs improvement[2]. He will progress undoubtedly over time, with age, maturity, and experience, however; the real question is in terms of which club will be the lucky beneficiary.

In the past few days Thomas Di Benedetto’s new-look AS Roma has been most consistently linked with the player, as the Giallorossi look to rejuvenate their aging side. Lamela’s agent has warned the capital club that many teams are interested in his client, however, and it thus seems likely that Lamela will be off to a new club by August’s end. However, Roma would seem to be a sensible choice for the youngster. Francesco Totti stands as one of the greatest trequartisti the world has seen, and if Lamela can indeed improve aspects of his game, he could do far worse than being a Padawan to Totti’s Jedi. With Jeremy Menez’s and Mirko Vucinic’s futures looking very hazy, the opportunity would be there for Lamela to break into the first team as well. Finally the move would be music to the ears of Palermo fans who would take a welcome respite from hearing Javier Pastore’s name constantly being linked to the side.

Nevertheless, Lamela has demonstrated that he is ready to take his game up to the next level. Serie A is a natural home for trequartisti and Lamela’s prodigious talent and skill would likely fit right into a league that relies less on pace and height than most others. Although the Messi comparisons are certainly far, far off the mark for the present, there’s little to suggest that they couldn’t be applicable in the future.


[1] Just-Football.com has a fantastic article detailing Lamela here.

[2] IMScouting.com has an article as well that’s more than worth reading.

Julian De Martinis

Calcio, Azzurri, and Roma tifosi. Blogger, correspondent, podcast host (@LaMagicast). Lover of books, movies, wordplay, family, and a good cappuccino.

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  • chris

    You compare his stature to that of Messi yet Lamela stands at 6’1/2″, not so ‘typical’. Only three goals and three assists playing treq. in the Argentine league with some of the best footballers in that league around him? Pssh. Technically gifted? Yes. But that only gets you so far, ask Riquelme.

  • johnny

    this kid is the future. forza roma

  • Ed Malyon

    The guy is undoubtedly exceptionally talented, the guy who has commented above is spot on that due to his height, Maradona and Messi comparisons seem fairly nonsensical and also he plays a very different role.

    He is wrong to criticise his contribution this season. River have been profligate in front of goal, Lamela has been their only player to create all season and he does this a lot, Pavone and Funes Mori (more recently) have been terrible at converting chances. Their good defence can only get them so far, it’s their lacking in front of goal that has seen them slide from the title race and to criticise Lamela’s input is absurd.

    He is, as you say a number 10 style playmaker who glides past players and plays killer balls. He is left footed and drifts to the left flank to isolate defenders sometimes, a tactic obviously used by Rooney, Henry and others in recent years.

    I have only a couple of small objections otherwise: 1) “his beloved River Plate”, whilst he can’t come out and say it, it’s widely accepted that he is, in fact, a Boca hincha. 2) Athletico Madrid should be Atletico but that’s just something that annoys me. 3) That IMscouting report is actually very good, he is much more akin to a Pastore than a Messi.

    Sorry to bore you.

    • Adam Digby

      Some great information there, thank you for taking time to comment, always good to hear from someone who’s actually watched the player up close

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