Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris-Brad Friedel Goalie Competition Cannot Last
When Tottenham Hotspur signed Hugo Lloris on deadline day of the summer transfer window, the deal was met with near-universal approval.
For a fee which could rise to as much as £12 million, Spurs had got themselves a player who is widely regarded as one of the best in the business. You don't get to be captain of an international powerhouse like France if you are not at the top of your game. That he is still just 25 years old means that there is potentially a decade of service for Lloris to give to the club too.
But a month after his move from Lyon to London, Lloris is still waiting to make his Premier League debut for his new club. That is because he will have a fight on his hands to dislodge Brad Friedel, the veteran American keeper who is currently the first choice at White Hart Lane.
While the 41-year-old from Ohio was making his 310th consecutive Premier League appearance in Tottenham's famous 3-2 win at Manchester United on Saturday, Lloris was again looking on from the bench.
Lloris completed his move too late on deadline day to be eligible for the 1-1 draw against Norwich the following day, and Friedel's starring role led head coach Andre Villas-Boas to say that he would not drop him just because of Lloris.
"We recognise that Brad was outstanding today and saved us a couple of times from going 1-0 down," Villas-Boas said via the BBC, after the American's outstanding display managed to salvage a point for Spurs. "It is undeniable that Brad's position is his and it will continue to be like that."
Lloris's only appearance for Spurs has been the 0-0 draw against Lazio in the Europa League. He was not included in the squad which recently travelled up to Carlisle for their Capital One Cup tie either. However, the new boy was probably grateful to have been spared a 500-mile round trip to take part in a competition which will be at the bottom of the club's list of priorities.
Both Villas-Boas and Friedel have had to respond to talk of Lloris being unhappy in quite emphatic fashion. Villas-Boas took a journalist to task in a press conference last week when the reporter suggested that the summer signing was frustrated at being left out of the team, to which the coach replied: "How do you know?" You can watch a video of the exchange here via Off The Post.
Friedel also broke his silence on the issue after former France keeper Fabien Barthez said he found it "incomprehensible" that Friedel was still getting picked ahead of his compatriot. As reported by Metro, Friedel responded on Twitter by saying, "I normally don't comment on such crap but when disrespected by someone I don't respect I must.
"Barthez was ignorant, disrespectful and out of order to mention my name."
For his part, Lloris has also publicly made it clear he is happy to play the long game at White Hart Lane.
"I'm not worried, if Tottenham came looking for me at Lyon, then surely I will play a part in the future of the club.
Such perspective is not as conducive to making a good story as the idea that everyone involving is at loggerheads with each other, but until Friedel is no longer No. 1, it looks like the story will continue to be rehashed.
Had Villas-Boas immediately dropped Friedel as soon as Lloris was eligible to play in the league, he would have been criticised for a lack of respect and loyalty for one of the Premier League's most consistent performers. Instead, he has backed Friedel and given his new signing to motivation to truly earn his place.
All that is required from Lloris is the patience to be able to sit on the Spurs bench, work hard in training and wait for his chance to come. He would not have been signed if he weren't part of the club's long-term strategy. He was not an opportunistic signing like Gylfi Sigurdsson or Clint Dempsey, the latter being a player who happened to become available unexpectedly.
This was a player Spurs had targeted over a long period every bit as much as fellow summer signing Jan Vertonghen.
When Friedel either retires, leaves the club or loses his place in the Spurs team for footballing reasons then Lloris will be there to move in. If he does it that way, the fans at the club will respect him a lot more for paying his dues rather than sulking his way into the team.
The current situation is an uncomfortable one, but it is one which will be resolved naturally soon enough.
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