It is impossible in Buenos Aires to bargain football. In a city with more than 60 stadiums -if its periphery is taken into account-, the ball (almost by decree) is stationed at each corner. That's why no one is surprised that the trusted news agency talks about a 15-year-old right-back who dazzles in the lower ones of Lanús or if the pivot of the sub-17 has more floor than Fernando Redondo. And the loudspeaker is lit when the kid in question is educated in the quarry of one of the big clubs, especially if it is River, the birthplace of eternal players for the fans. Thus, in 2004 in Buenos Aires there was talk of one Erik Lamela (Carapachay, 26 years old).
"These are difficult situations to calibrate when you are 12 years old, they tell you that they are going to interview you for TV and you think it's great. You are not thinking if that will press you more or less in the future, I would give a little bit the same, "Lamela tells EL PAÍS. "With time you do not analyze and think … I just wanted to play in First, who cares to be known with 12 years?" He asks. His fame, however, jumped the puddle. The Barca was once again set on a talented southpaw, this time without problems to hit the spurt. "The possibility of going to Barça arose. The club explained how my life was going to be there and they told me that there was an Argentine boy, who had arrived at the age of 13 and was about to debut in First. They said it was very good, "he recalls. "It seems that they did not miss him with the prognosis", says, laughing, the Tottenham player, who today is measured at Barça. But River did not want to know anything about letting go of his jewel. "They made me a kind of mini contract and with my family we decided to stay."
Closed its continuity, in Buenos Aires anxiety was opened to see Lamela debut in the Monumental. It did not take three parties when the brand that sponsored it papered the Buenos Aires capital with its face. The future was already present. So, the problem stopped being the when to be the how. It was no longer when Lamela will debut at River, but how River was when Lamela debuted. In the neighborhood of Núñez, what even the most sarcastic of Boca's amateur scriptwriter could not imagine happened: the most winning team in Argentine football lost the category and had no choice but to let go of their great promise. "I have very clear that I did not do well, but I had no options. The club needed to sell and I was their only candidate, "explains Lamela.
In 2011, he took his left foot for Roma. And a year later he found himself, finally, with Messi in the national team. "When I was a kid I liked Maradona, because of that thing we Argentines have with Diego. But I do not like to compare them. I assure you that football today is very difficult. The rivals study every movement, everything became more tactical and physical. And when it's harder to make a difference on the court, Leo appears there and does what he wants. It's incredible, "he says. It does not spare, in any case, praise for Totti (partner in Rome) and Harry Kane.
"Something similar happens with Harry to what happened to me with Totti. He is the leader of the team, a fantastic player, but what surprises me the most is his personality. And that, in the end, is what makes you more appreciative, "says Lamela. And it describes the soccer of its captain, main weapon to attack Barcelona in Wembley. "It's true that when he pulls back he does well, but Harry is an area nine. The guy makes you a goal out of nothing. It surprises you, because perhaps during a game it does not touch much, but when it touches it goes inside, "he emphasizes.
Today Lamela wants to add to the eleven of Tottenham, has two goals in the three games played in the Premier. In the mirror three years remained in hell. First his pet died, then his brother had a car accident (he was in a wheelchair) and, to finish, he suffered a double hip operation. "Soccer is beautiful, but when it happened my brother's thing you give account of the priorities. Mauricio was very good and let me go to Buenos Aires, "says the flyer. And he explains: "Many people confused things, the only reason I could not play was because of my injury." A problem that took him more than a year away from the fields.
"At first it seemed that strengthening the area in the gym and working with the physio was going to happen to me. But, when they spent four or five months in that situation, I went to the club and said, 'I operate,' he explains. An injury closer to tennis than football. "I went to see Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, Rafa Nadal's doctor. He organized everything for me, the operation with a doctor from the United States and recovery in Barcelona, "explains Lamela. From pain to anxiety. "It's hard when they tell you a recovery time and you see that date is approaching, but you're not well." Then, the reassuring Pochettino reappeared. "It was hard for me to feel good again, but Mauricio was very good and he took me little by little," the Argentine said, before tomorrow's game against Barcelona for the group stage of the Champions League. "I feel very good, without pain. In the end, the only thing you want it's playing ball. "