The Argentina forward was a peripheral figure in his first season at White Hart Lane but started to work his way back to full fitness with 45 willing minutes against SeattleErik Lamela is Tottenham's all-time record signing but the club's fans have had to rely on Twitter and Instagram to get their fix of the Argentine in 2014, seeing as he has been on the sidelines with a back problem since the end of December.
The former River Plate and Roma man faces a crucial second season at White Hart Lane, and with compatriot Mauricio Pochettino in the dug-out he was given a run-out as a No.10 against Seattle Sounders on Saturday night.
Things did not all go to plan for the 22-year-old, but there was plenty for him and his team-mates to take heart from as he finally got back on the pitch. Here, Goal assesses his performance and what the future may hold...
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST SEATTLE SOUNDERS
It was a willing but not particularly impressive 45 minutes for Lamela at Century Link Field, which is perhaps as much as could be expected for somebody who has not seen a minute of action since December 29.
Having been introduced at the break he was given the opportunity to play as a No.10, rather than on the flanks - predominantly the right - as he had been used to in his first season in England.
He was unable to thread through the type of passes you would expect of a central playmaker, but he did showcase some nice touches, a willingness to work hard and got in a couple of good areas to score.
He displayed his ability to beat his man on a couple of occasions: five minutes into his appearance he wriggled free but looped his cross straight at the goalkeeper, and on 70 minutes he won a free kick after being taken out after skipping past his marker.
The former Roma man also had two chances to get on the scoresheet, but did not show any conviction when bearing down on goal. First he displayed great movement and awareness to follow up on his pass, drift into space and meet the ball on the edge of the area after a team-mate's shot had been deflected, but his own contact, on his favoured left foot, was weak and the chance went begging.
Later, he got free in the left-hand side of the area but his shot across goal was also lacking in power and easily fielded.
He also showed for the ball whenever possible, even with men on his back, which suggests he is not backing out of anything as he steps up his recovery.
After so long on the sidelines those flashes of talent could be considered encouraging, and the lack of a killer instinct understandable. Lamela, maybe more importantly, was very keen to put in the hard running and try to win the ball back. On one occasion he got himself into three 50-50 tackles in quick succession, eventually winning the third one.
He was switched to the left for the final five minutes, but had little effect. After Seattle went 3-2 ahead he was caught on his heels and allowed his marker to nip in and win the ball, and at the end was pushed around by some overzealous Sounders stars after Roberto Soldado and Osvaldo Alonso got into a spat.
All in all, these 45 minutes will be important for Lamela, who could well be given the opportunity to try his hand as a No.10 more regularly under Pochettino.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
Tottenham, hopefully. The club paid £30m for him last summer and they will be looking for a return on that investment under Pochettino in the forthcoming campaign.
The Argentine is capable of playing the inside forward role which countryman Pochettino has utilised at Southampton and Espanyol, and he showed on Saturday that he is willing to work hard and help keep the team's shape, whether playing in the centre or on the left.
He will be hoping he can forge a partnership with Roberto Soldado, who appears to have become a close friend, although the Spain striker could even be moved on this summer a year after joining.
If Lamela can build up his fitness and regain confidence, there's no reason he cannot be a key man for Spurs.
If any European clubs were to take a shot this summer, you would imagine Juventus may be tempted to bring him back to Italy as they search for an extra attacking midfielder after Juan Iturbe moved to Roma.
If Peter Lim fancies ploughing more cash into Valencia, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that a player such as Lamela would be of interest to los Che and their fans.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
As he will stay at Tottenham, for now, much will depend on the coming season. By the end of 2014-15 he will have two years remaining on his contract, so if he shines he will likely be offered a new deal by Spurs and be the subject of interest from a number of clubs around Europe.
If he struggles like he did in his first season it will be time for losses to be cut.
Many foreign stars have struggled in their maiden Premier League season and gone on to enjoy success, and Lamela has certainly proven himself as a talented player.
Pochettino seems to be on the verge of making some summer signings and if he can get the best out of Lamela then he'll be confident of a successful first season at White Hart Lane, but the hard work starts now for the attacking midfielder ahead of what is likely to be a make-or-break campaign.