It’s been a weird ten years or so for Tottenham.
It’s not a club that lets its fans feel safe or settled for a prolonged period of time. There’s generally chaos right around the corner at any given point, even from a position of perceived strength. The last two years is a testament to that.
But in an age where players are linked with exits barely months after they’ve made £50m moves to a new club, loyalty and reliability are traits that can go somewhat strangely undervalued. It’s a corner Spurs goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris has often had to fight his way out of, often without too many backing him up.
Throughout his time in the Premier League, his occasional errors have stuck to him more so than any of the competition’s other goalkeepers, perhaps because of the reputation his team has for being a little soft and loving an outrageously awful defensive mishap.
That doesn’t tell the whole story, however.
For a goalkeeper to nail down a consistent starting spot for a top six side for nine years is an incredible feat, and a testament to Lloris’ longevity. He may not get the credit he deserves outside of north London, but Spurs fans know the World Cup winner as a goalie who consistently wins his side points on his own with his cat-like reflexes and excellent shot-stopping ability.
Unfortunately for Lloris, his loyalty to Tottenham hasn’t given him much back in return. In another universe, he’d have a cabinet packed with league titles and domestic trophies to go alongside France’s World Cup success in 2018.
But now, with a deal almost finalised for Atalanta’s Pierluigi Gollini, it looks like runner-up medals in the Champions League and League Cup is as good as it’s going to get. The pair are expected to battle it out for the right to be Spurs’ number one, but the move shows the club are looking for a successor for one of their all time greats.
You could go back and forth arguing over which Tottenham player over the last ten years or so ‘deserves’ success at club level, but having sat through the disastrous Andre Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho spells alongside the spiritually glorious yet materially empty Mauricio Pochettino era, Lloris is bang at the top of that list.
His performances and leadership during the seasons where Spurs ran the Premier League’s elite close in 2015/16 and 2016/17 is often casually forgotten in favour of memories like getting lobbed by Jesus Navas at Manchester City or letting Kieran Trippier stick one past him at Chelsea.
Lloris formed part of one of the strongest spines a Tottenham side has ever had. There was Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, but the 34-year-old was never quite viewed on the same level. In reality, we should romanticise Lloris’ heroic displays in the Premier League and Champions League just as much.
He’s never been the biggest talker in the squad, but he was more than prepared to face the music when Tottenham were embarrassingly knocked out of the Europa League last season. His words after that defeat to Dinamo Zagreb were stark and telling of the dire situation the club found itself in under Mourinho.
Lloris is expected to remain at Tottenham for the coming season, which is good news. But with a successor seemingly plucked out of the crowd and only 12 months remaining on his contract, it feels safe to say we’re firmly entering the twilight of his Spurs career.
His story has not been the biggest during Tottenham’s frantic past few months. The manager circus, Kane’s future and the 12 players who are linked with moves to north London every day dominate most back pages related to Tottenham.
But it must not go unnoticed. If Lloris is approaching the end of his time at Tottenham, Spurs fans must recognise the Frenchman’s enormous contribution to a both memorable and scarring chapter in the club’s history.
With 373 appearances under his belt at Tottenham, he is an undeniable club legend. Just remember that save at Bayer Leverkusen and not that gaffe against Southampton.
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