Hugo Lloris continues to justify Jose Mourinho’s decision to sign Joe Hart this summer, with France legend Jean-Pierre Papin waxing lyrical over the Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper for his form during the November international break.
While speaking with L’Equipe, Papin praised Lloris for working miracles as he helped guide France to victory over Portugal in the UEFA Nations League last Friday.
The 33-year-old pulled off, what Papin feels to be, three top-drawer saves that played a key factor in determining the result, which moved Didier Deschamps’ France clear of their Group A3 rivals with Portugal left trailing by three points.
France ensured they stayed top of their group in the final fixture on Tuesday night with a 4-2 home win over Sweden, while Portugal edged Croatia 3-2 in a nervy affair decided in second-half stoppage-time by Manchester City’s Ruben Dias.
Papin believes Lloris’ superb ability between the posts safeguarded France from any troubles in victory over Portugal, while the Spurs and Les Bleus captain earned the 119th of his 120 international caps.
“I liked the mastery of this well-organised team,” Papin said. “They displayed seriousness and discipline, which is reassuring for the future. We could fear that Portugal would crush us with their mastery, it was not the case.
“France was sure of the football, well in place, with a great goalkeeper. Lloris had three balls to touch and he achieves three miracles.”
Lloris’ form with France and in north London this season continues to justify Mourinho’s decision to bring Hart to Tottenham as a free agent, having stated how he felt the former England international’s arrival would help inspire the French shot-stopper to up his game.
Mourinho was clear that Hart was not being brought in to make up Spurs’ domestic quota but to offer competition between the sticks, feeling that Lloris was not challenged enough by Paulo Gazzaniga and Michael Vorm last term.
“Joe is one of the top ‘keepers of the last decade in this country. He started very early, playing in a big club like [Manchester] City and playing for the national team,” Mourinho said, via quotes by One Football.
“Now he has a chance to be back at a club like us. Of, course Hugo is our captain – he is world champion captain. He’s a phenomenal goalkeeper and is very important in our group, but I think Joe will give him the hard competition that we need.”
Lloris has since proven Mourinho’s belief – and commitment to pay Hart £2.6million in a £27,500-per-week, two-year contract – true, with the 33-year-old keeping his 54th international clean sheet against Portugal after two shut outs in eight Premier League games.
The £10.8m-rated veteran has also made more saves (17) than Manchester City’s Ederson (15), United’s David de Gea (13) and Liverpool’s Alisson Becker (9), plus a higher number of high claims (4) than the rival trio in the top-flight this term, per SofaScore.
A five out of 10 match rating from L’Equipe for his efforts against Sweden, having conceded twice from two shots on target, however, also goes to show Mourinho’s need for high-level competition, as Hart can keep Lloris on his toes once the goalkeeper returns to north London.