It had been rumored for quite some time, but on the final day of the summer transfer market it finally happened: Tottenham Hotspur secured Hugo Lloris from Ligue 1 team Lyon.
Journalist Duncan Castles is reporting on Twitter:
Tottenham agree a fee with Lyon of €10m plus €5m in variables for Hugo Lloris. The France goalkeeper is in London taking a medical. #THFC— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) August 31, 2012
It's a significant purchase, to say the least. Current starter Brad Friedel is a solid, well-respected goalkeeper, but he's 41 years old and has been showing slight signs of wear and tear. Friedel was certainly never expected to be a long-term answer—he was brought in to take over for the ever-frustrating Heurelho Gomes—and the former American international is as aware as anybody of his limitations.
Who is he?
Hugo Lloris is an already world-class goalkeeper entering his prime (25), who not only has Champions League experience with Lyon but has played in both the Euros and the World Cup with his home country, France.
The first-choice French captain, Lloris is a tall, somewhat lanky keeper who reminds somewhat of Manchester United's keeper David de Gea. While that isn't the most appetizing of comparisons, keep in mind that Lloris is a bit more robust, proven in a foreign league (Ligue One) that is a bit more physically demanding than de Gea's former La Liga—not to mention, again, that Lloris starts on the international level. Regardless, both are exceptional shot stoppers with quick reflexes and length.
Additionally, Lloris appears to be a strong leader and locker room presence. Occasionally portrayed by the French media often as fiery and undisciplined, some of Lloris's most infamous moments also prove his strengths as a leader.
In 2011 after giving up two last-minute goals to the French club Nice after the team was leading for most of that match at 2-0, Lloris was captured by cameras (see aside) going off on himself and teammates. The moment which was characterized by some as recklessness and indiscipline was, conversely, praised for competitiveness and devotion.
Why is he great for the Spurs?
Tottenham aren't the first team that have been interested in Lloris' services. Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona inquired earlier this summer about the Frenchman. Apparently, they were impressed with not only his shot stopping and competitive play, but his technical ability—hit foot skills—too.
Barcelona pass to their keeper as much as nearly anybody in Europe. And they expect their keeper to possess skills simply beyond the "receive and hoof" that has been largely predominant in the EPL for decades. Andre Villas-Boas, who clearly models himself after former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, clearly wants a keeper that can do all of these things.
His ability to stop long shots is a real asset, particularly in an English Premier League that sees more long shots attempted than any other Top-5 league (via WhoScored.com). It's something that Friedel lacks and Gomes showed promising signs of, so at the very least consider Lloris a combination of the former's maturity and the latter's physical ability.
As part of the Portuguese manager's revolution in North London, Lloris is exactly the type of keeper that is needed. He's sharp, agile and perfectly suited to playing within the possession-based system that Villas-Boas was renowned for at FC Porto. His youth and top-flight experience are a clear signal that Tottenham is ready to win for quite some time.