When Hugo Lloris signed for Tottenham Hotspur this summer it was heralded as a brilliant bargain buy. Needless to say the purchase of the French national team captain for a cut-price figure of less than £10 million was a good piece of business by Andre Villas Boas and Daniel Levy. When you consider he doesn't turn 26 until Boxing Day it gains even more credence as an exceptional deal for AVB and co.
When the deal first occurred however I was admittedly a member of ‘Team Friedel’; not out of any warped sense of sentimentalism toward the American stalwart but more as a follower of French football I have never quite seen what all the fuss is about with Lloris.
In terms of his ‘modern’ goalkeeping attributes there are several aspects in which he must be appreciated. He is an excellent distributor of the ball and happy to take control with his feet and play out from the back. He is also a fantastic shot-stopper but I saw him make far too many mistakes with Nice, Lyon and France to ever agree with his billing as one of the top ten keepers in the world.
That attitude has barely changed. I still feel he is far behind the likes of Casillas, Neuer, Hart, Buffon and even Courtois, Mignolet or Ter Stegen in terms of natural goalkeeping ability.
However I do now feel the time is right for him to be handed the number one jersey outright.
For all his years of magnificent service to the Premier League unfortunately there was always going to be a point when Brad Friedel’s time was up and that appears to have come. He still makes good saves and is positionally decent however his lack of speed is becoming a genuine worry for Tottenham Hotspur.
Against Manchester City he really looked out of his depth. On numerous occasions Steven Caulker was rightly left waiting for his custodian to sweep up a through ball only to watch him dawdle his way backward away from confrontation.
At 41 he clearly is becoming creaky and while Lloris has not been inspiring in his performances so far a lot of that can be put down to confidence. When he signed for Spurs he was full of optimism and clearly wanted to glove up and prove his worth to those like me who doubt his talents:
"I am here because I believe in Tottenham, I think everything is OK for the future of Tottenham. They have great team, great players, and a great coach so everything is all right, I think, to win a place in the Champions League next year. Now we have to prove that on the pitch and I am ready to give it my all for the club and for the fans."
Lloris probably only needs an extended run in the team to get up to his peak condition and with Friedel and Cudicini in training with him every day he has two experienced Premier League operators to learn the nuances of English football from.
I for one hope I am left eating humble pie for doubting Les Bleus captain but it is time to end the rotation and give the long term solution his place in the first-team.
Do you think it is time to make Hugo Lloris the undisputed number one at White Hart Lane?
image: © myeralan