Ricky Villa: Lamela 'will improve dramatically' at Tottenham

The Spurs and Argentina legend believes his compatriot will have no problems adjusting to life in England and expects him to thrive in Andre Villas-Boas' "super-competitive team."
Tottenham icon Ricky Villa believes Erik Lamela will "improve dramatically" at White Hart Lane.

Roma announced that it has agreed upon a deal worth 25.7 million pounds, plus 4.2 million in add-ons, with Spurs for Lamela on Wednesday afternoon.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas and new technical director Franco Baldini identified the 21-year-old Argentine as the club's top target to replace Real Madrid-bound Gareth Bale, and Villa believes it is the right choice.

"Lamela will improve dramatically as a player at Tottenham," Villa told Goal. "I think the arrival of Erik Lamela to Tottenham is fantastic. The manager is building up a super-competitive team.

"European football in general is lacking in footballers that are capable of creating, of inventing. English football is very dynamic, very quick, but it’s lacking in the volumen de juego [inventiveness, creativity] that players like Lamela can bring to the table."

Lamela moved from River Plate to Italy in 2011 following the Argentine giants' relegation, and Villa believes his experience of playing in Serie A will stand him in good stead upon his arrival in England, despite the differences between the two cultures.

"I don’t think he’ll have any trouble adapting when it comes purely to football," Villa said. "It’s true that the Premier League is not the same as Serie A, but Erik already has the European footballer mentality.

"He’s got a different level of discipline, a different kind of training, of dealing with the press. He learned all that in his two years in Italy. Besides, the manager is from Portugal, and Portuguese people in general understand South American footballers better."

Villa moved to Tottenham, alongside Ossie Ardiles, from Racing Club in 1978, and does not foresee the same kind of culture shock for Lamela that he experienced 35 years ago.

"These days it is a lot easier to adapt," Villa said. "You’ve got social networks, internet, etc. With Osvaldo [Ardiles], we went into what was in effect a different world. We were disconnected, it was like an adventure for us. We had no contact whatsoever with Argentina. We were used to a completely different life. You had to walk for a while to find a telephone and make a call.

"The trouble for an Argentine that arrives to the Premier League is adapting to life in England, to the language, to the habits. But I don’t think that would be a big problem for Erik. There is a different level when it comes to the relationship between players and fans and vice versa. We (the Argentines) are more similar to the Italians. If we compare everything with Argentina, England is a step above."