Erik Lamela
Lamela remained at Spurs despite keen January interest from Italy.Reuters

Former Inter Milan defender Ze Maria has encouraged his old club to not follow up their January interest in Tottenham Hotspur forward Erik Lamela in the summer.

The north London club broke their transfer record to sign the 21-year-old forward from Roma for £30m as part of the club's summer overhaul but his first season in the Premier League has gone from bad to worse amid persistent injury.

A number of Serie A clubs were keen to offer Lamela a route back to Italian football during the January transfer window with Inter and Juventus among those interested in taking him on loan.

Tim Sherwood remained adamant the former Roma star would remain at White Hart Lane, although there has been much speculation suggesting his suitors will return with an offer this summer when the Spurs hierarchy may be more willing to do business.

Inter have endured another indifferent season that sees them currently sat fifth, eight points off a top four spot and 24 behind league leaders Juventus. While the club are expected to invest in new personnel in the summer, former Nerazzurri and Brazil international Ze Maria insists the club must focus on more pressing matters within their squad.

"I think Lamela is a similar player to (current Inter player) Ricardo Alvarez," Ze Maria told Tutto Mercato.

"He has more or less the same characteristics but Inter need reinforcements in both defence and midfield, as long as they are quality people.

"Lamela is certainly quality, but the priorities are different."

Lamela has largely struggled to adapt to England both and on and off the field since his move to London, having failed to grasp the language.

Having started just three Premier League games for the club this season, the forward's woes were recently compounded after suffering a back strain, a result of overcompensating to protect an existing thigh injury which could rule him out for another six weeks.