Even though the Premier League season is far from finished, the transfer suggestions are cranking up in earnest, with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur mentioned in one of the most intriguing of the recent rumours.
French football expert and Le Parisien writer Julien Lauren has claimed in an interview with TalkSPORT that goalkeeper Hugo Lloris wishes to leave Spurs. It was also reported by L'Equipe (h/t talkSPORT) that Manchester City are ready to offer their own No. 1, Joe Hart, as bait to sign the French 'keeper.
It's a move of the kind which isn't often found in the Premier League, a straight player swap between clubs, and the suspicion would be that City would benefit more from the deal than Tottenham.
Hart's Strengths and Weaknesses
Joe Hart has had an up-and-down campaign; he began with three clean sheets in his first four league games, but his early season form was littered with errors, some of which were high profile ones. The England No. 1 was removed from City's lineup for seven league matches in a row due to his blunders, also missing a Champions League win over CSKA Moscow in that time, before being reestablished by late December.
The 27-year-old is a fine shot-stopper, shows good reactions and distributes the ball largely well and quickly, while also being a good communicator with his defence.
Hart has experience of winning the Premier League and FA Cup, as well as 39 international caps for England.
A generally stable and consistent performer, Hart does have his downsides, as all keepers do. He is a little weak at his near post, can be slow to get to ground at times because of his large frame and despite being very brave and committed when going for the ball, sometimes seems to make rash decisions about coming out to collect the ball aerially.
City Style and Lloris
Manchester City are a very offensive-minded side, always looking to move from back to front quickly and in numbers.
In that manner, a goalkeeper to release the ball quickly is imperative; Hart does the job very well but few are as forward-thinking as Hugo Lloris, a goalkeeper whose region of play extends outside his penalty box.
He is also proactive about coming off his line to stem attacks looking to move in behind the defence, something which City would benefit from immensely with a high defensive line and without particularly rapid central defenders. He does, however, get a little impetuous with this tactic, exposing himself to one-on-ones and leaving the goal unprotected.
Reflexes and agility are huge strengths of Lloris, who has captained club and country in his career, with the French No. 1 winning 57 caps to date and claiming the Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year three times whilst with Lyon.
What Else for Spurs?
As a straight swap, Hart for Lloris doesn't seem to make too much sense for Spurs; Lloris might want to leave, but he has two years left on his deal—the same as Hart—and is almost inarguably the better all-round goalkeeper.
However, were City to include other benefits, such as an additional cash payment, perhaps, then the deal might be one Spurs look upon favourably.
Who would a Hart-Lloris swap benefit more?
Replacing Lloris, if he does indeed want to leave this summer in search of Champions League football, will be far from easy, and they aren't likely to entice anybody with a bigger reputation than the England national team 'keeper Hart.
It's not a huge downgrade for the London club, though Hart himself might have plenty to say about moving from a team challenging for titles to one seemingly without a clear plan, direction or even manager for next season.