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He has been the new Messi and the new Totti, now Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles believes fellow Argentinian Erik Lamela can be the next Gareth Bale
Tottenham may argue they have bought a new squad to fill the chasm left by Gareth Bale, but Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles believes his fellow Argentinian Erik Lamela will follow in the Welshman's footsteps.
Lamela, a 21-year-old forward who signed from Roma for a club record £30million this summer, has been somewhat of an enigma since his arrival at White Hart Lane. Spurs fans have been allowed just a few sneak previews of his potential in limited spurts on the pitch.
But while they have have been happily distracted by the impacts of Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Roberto Soldado, Ardiles is still eagerly anticipating the moment Lamela explodes onto the scene and outshines them all.
Back in their homeland, Lamela has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi. When he joined Roma from River Plate in 2011, he was the new Francesco Totti and now – inevitably – someone is suggesting he is the new Bale.
“Lamela is the one who is going to go to the highest level for Tottenham,” Ardiles told the Haringey Independent.
“I think he will take a little bit more time than all the other new players to adjust to the pace of the Premier League, but he is the one – we rate him so highly in Argentina.
“To give you an idea, when Lamela was very young, he was called the young Messi. He went to Rome and he was the new Totti. Lamela has a big reputation, believe me.
“He is still young but very talented. He can play behind the centre-forward, on the right or on the left, and there is a touch of Gareth Bale about him as well. I think Erik would like to be compared to Bale but they have different styles. He is a bit more powerful certainly, and more skilful, so I am looking forward to seeing him progress very much.
“I think he's going to be a wonderful player for Tottenham. Everybody rates him very highly and so do I.”
Read Lyall Thomas's Spurs blog in our From the Lane section here.
Ardiles, along with fellow Spurs legend Ricky Villa, was one of the first Argentinian players to play club football in England when he was brought to N17 by then-manager Keith Burkinshaw following the 1978 World Cup.
Ardiles enjoyed a decade-long spell at Tottenham, making 221 appearances and scoring 16 goals, and took his place among the club's greats by lifting the FA Cup in 1981 and the UEFA Cup in 1984.
Spurs will go on the hunt for that same European trophy - now squeezed under its more commercial title, the Europa League - on Thursday night when they travel to Russia to face Anzhi Makhachkala in their second Group K game.
And Ardiles believes any trophy is within Tottenham's reach this season after a superb start under the guidance of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
“They are having a wonderful, wonderful start to the season,” the 61-year-old said.
“After losing Gareth Bale in the summer, the club did a wonderful thing with the money, buying some world-class players and if anything they are stronger now – it's not easy to replace a player like Bale.
“Villas-Boas is doing a tremendous job. I'm very impressed with him, and it was difficult for him after Chelsea but he's doing great. Tottenham have adjusted sooner rather than later with the new players and that is all credit to AVB.
Ardiles added: “Everything is open and its going to be a very good season. It's a very level playing field. They should take one game at a time, as I don't think AVB or anybody at the club want to speculate that Tottenham are going to win the Championship.
“But things are very open, so you never know.”
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