“Hugo’s out for the season. We had the results back. Obviously disappointing, but we kind of feared that initially. We did some more tests and he won’t play for us again this season,” Tottenham interim manager Ryan Mason said of club captain Hugo Lloris on Friday.
The Frenchman sustained a thigh injury midway through Spurs’ 6-1 mauling by Newcastle United last month. It could prove to be his final game for the club.
90min understands that the north Londoners will look to bring in a new goalkeeper in the summer transfer market, with Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili, Brentford’s David Raya, Porto’s Diogo Costa and Inter’s Andre Onana all targets.
Lloris still has a year left to run on his contract, but the implication of bringing in a new stopper is that Tottenham no longer need their current skipper.
When he signed that deal in January 2022, it made at least a bit of sense. He wasn’t in a steep decline yet and though he wasn’t in the mould of an Alisson or an Ederson, recently-appointed head coach Antonio Conte needed stability and leadership.
Like most things in the Italian’s reign though, it’s a decision that has eventually hindered Spurs this season. Is it any coincidence that Lloris has often proved to be symbolic of where Tottenham have stood as a club at any given time?
He first joined Spurs on deadline day of the summer 2012 window to the surprise of fans across Europe. Lloris was one of the continent’s best up-and-coming goalkeepers, yet he had settled on a club at that point way outside the elite.
It took him a while to even displace Brad Friedel, who was the complete inverse style of goalkeeper, someone rooted to their line and only really credible for shot-stopping and communication. To put into context, the American is now 51 years of age.
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Lloris was the shining emblem of Spurs’ new era – they had hired a young coach in Andre Villas-Boas to replace Harry Redknapp, signed the unique Mousa Dembele to fill the hole left by Luka Modric and soon moved into a state-of-the-art training facility.
Their goalkeeper was now in the same conversations as Manuel Neuer because of his quickness off the line and sweeping ability. Tottenham could now play with the high line that would become one of the top tactical trends of the decade.
During his first three seasons in north London, Lloris quickly established himself as one of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers, probably the best outside David de Gea. He was appointed captain under Mauricio Pochettino in 2014/15 when predecessor Younes Kaboul essentially revolted.
Lloris came to Spurs’ rescue again and again and again. He was at his best when he was busiest, but that proved to be problematic when the outfielders in front of him cut out the nonsense.
Between 2015 and 2018, Lloris lost his reactive edge and added inexplicable gaffes to his game. High-profile errors became quite the occurrence, but his place was always secure – Pochettino always hailed him as the extra arm of his coaching staff, and he would go on to win the World Cup as France’s captain.
He was effectively undroppable, even managing to retain the captain’s armband at Spurs amid a drink-driving scandal. What felt like the nadir came in October 2018 when his red card at PSV Eindhoven seemed to have knocked his side out of the Champions League.
And then Lloris came roaring back, not only halting his inverse trajectory but coming back fighting with his best form in years. That dismissal in the Netherlands should have sent Tottenham out, but he played a starring role on their run to the Champions League final, notably saving a penalty in the quarter-finals against Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho took the head coach job in November 2019 and once again Spurs played every game like an underdog who didn’t need to play from the back, once again Lloris a key beneficiary after returning from a dislocated elbow – a gruesome injury which itself typified the brutal end of the Pochettino era.
He also emerged as one of the only winners from the club’s Amazon Prime All or Nothing documentary, demonstrating his presence in the dressing room, a usually quiet and softly-spoken figure announcing himself with a booming and rousing voice.
When Tottenham were somehow dumped out of the Europa League by a Dinamo Zagreb side whose manager was in prison, Lloris stepped up to call out the club for their constant missteps since reaching the 2019 Champions League final.
“We are a club full of ambition, I just think at the moment it is a reflection of what is going on in the club,” he exclaimed deep into the Croatian night.
“We have a lack of basics, fundamentals, our performances are just in relation of that. Mentally we should be stronger, more competitive.”
From there until the midway point of the Conte era, Lloris took a backseat to the spotlight, only really thrusting himself back in it by becoming the Premier League leader in the ‘errors leading to goals’ stat. The gear stick is in reverse again and this time it’s stuck.
He is now a so-so shot stopper but a complete liability with the ball at his feet, Tottenham now a team way behind the curve again in terms of tactics and structure. There are few goalkeepers who aren’t quick off their line anymore and he doesn’t share many traits with his progressive peers.
It recently emerged that Spurs’ four-man leadership group contained Lloris, Eric Dier, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane, and it became quite clear (very clear) that this was a club in need of fresh impetus and a new core.
Lloris is due a testimonial this summer. Should he be granted one, it could prove to be as fitting a way for him to sign off as the Newcastle horror show – a rather neat encapsulation of the last decade of Tottenham Hotspur.
On this edition of OWAN, part of the 90min podcast network, Sean Walsh and Jude Summerfield look back on Liverpool 4-3 Tottenham in the Premier League, discuss Cristian Romero’s recent form, Richarlison’s moment (that Lucas Moura took away) and the latest on the club’s search for a permanent manager.
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