France have not been particularly known for their outstanding goalkeepers in recent years. Their outfield players are magnificent, if a little quirky, but they certainly are not being overwhelmed by the vast array of talent in goal, as, say, the Germans are. Hugo Lloris, however, has managed to climb the ladder quite significantly in French football. He’s made his move to a big club, developed into his country’s No.1 between the posts and is now looking toward the next step abroad.
For those who are a little unsure of Lloris’ abilities in net, the goalkeeper has not always been considered wholly consistent. The talent was always clear, and there would have been little doubt that he would eventually blossom into one of Europe’s leading goalkeepers. However, he is still young, and like many goalkeepers—both young and old—there is a tendency to be a little eccentric, if uncertain of himself on the big stage.
Naturally, Arsenal were considered a likely destination well before this summer. The French links at the north London club made it a possible landing zone for Lloris, and the problems at Arsenal with regards to their goalkeeping options in the past certainly raised the volume on the Lloris question. But that was when he was at Nice, with Arsene Wenger opting against the French keeper and persisting with what he had. Frustrating, of course, but the manager’s reservations were correct.
Lloris, while big enough to command his area, did not have the presence and confidence to succeed on the biggest stage—at least not at that point. Mistakes, however, were broken up by a string of impressive saves. His ability from crosses were most concerning and resembling that of another goalkeeper at Arsenal. The move to Lyon in 2008 was the correct one, whereby one of the country’s leading prospects could accelerate his development at a club where the big occasion would come around regularly.
But following the 2011/12 season, there has been little denying that Lloris has been one of the pillars holding up Lyon in the French League. Still a young player by goalkeeping standards, but he is now very much a part of the class associated with Manuel Neuer of Bayer Munich, rather than a Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid—talented but still in need of more experience.
His summer at the Euros were again a highlight of what he was capable of. And while the French team did little to warrant a place among the elite of the tournament, Lloris was entrusted with the captaincy and managed to fit in well with his new role. The armband at the Euros was also a decision whereby the coaching staff wanted a player who would be a regular for the national side for many years, rather than fluttering in and out due to off-field issues. The trust and confidence in Lloris is testament to how far he has come. At this stage, Steve Mandanda looks unlikely to knock the current Lyon keeper off his perch.
Once again, the links to north London have surfaced. Arsenal are in need of backup or rotation to Wojciech Szczesny, and Tottenham are desperate to land a fresher face to hold the position for many years. Interestingly, Lloris has always conducted himself as one who commits to a club over the long term, rather than creating stepping stones to greater destinations. Furthermore, he’s obviously a goalkeeper full of ambition, and is likely to carefully plan out his next step.
He undoubtedly represents a good target for Tottenham, who need to find a keeper whom they can place a lot of long term faith in. Lloris is currently well beyond the standard of Spurs’ recent acquisitions in that position, and would be a great move for the club to cement their place among the top four in the Premier League.
It’s not too long ago that inflated fees for goalkeepers were considered incongruous in the transfer market. But recently, Manuel Neuer has made the step up for close to £20 million, and David De Gea’s move to Manchester United also warranted a similar fee. Lyon are a stage where they need to sell, and will be looking for a large amount for a goalkeeper with great potential. £15 million is hardly out of keeping with what top goalkeepers are commanding, and Hugo Lloris is definitely worth the time and the £15m investment for such a move.