Let’s be honest, the French media were never happy with Hugo Lloris moving to Tottenham Hotspur. It was felt that when Lloris left Lyon he should be moving to a huge club and do so with the class which typifies the man, rather than transfer to Spurs in a last minute deal which all felt a little grubby.
Maybe there’s an Arsenal dynamic. Arsene Wenger is of course French and Arsenal have for a long time been associated with the country, even now they have a French contingent including Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin. A subconscious Tottenham dislike.
Not only had Lloris taken a step sideways to Spurs, or down in the opinion of some, he was then expected to fight for his place under Andre Villas Boas. Brad Friedel was in good form, and it seemed to be an understandable situation, but given the transfer hadn’t gone down well in France in the first place, this was another strike into an open wound.
Didier Deschamps got involved and there was increasing incredulity, but Lloris got in the team eventually and has stayed there since. That didn’t heal everything in France, it was still felt that Lloris had proven himself to be deserving of a bigger club and Champions League football.
The Lloris to Manchester United links were mainly pushed by the French media, maybe more out of hope than expectation. Tottenham’s last season under Mauricio Pochettino obviously changed things, with captain Lloris now playing for a team that wasn’t only going to qualify for the Champions League, but also have a good shot at the title.
Fast forward to now, with Lloris and Tottenham out of Europe’s premier competition, and there’s obviously discontent.
French newspaper L’Equipe gave Lloris 8/10 for his performance against AS Monaco, but it’s their words which are much more striking.
‘a high-class goalkeeper who has the technical qualities and mental faculties to exist in the Champions League’
‘His history with the Champions League 2016-2017 will end on December 7th at home against CSKA Moscow. A match for a place in the Europa League. The real level of Spurs on the European stage. Not that of Lloris.’
But it’s understandable. They start to warm to the idea of Lloris remaining at Tottenham for a long time, they hear his words about being so happy where he is, and then a weakened team puts in a dreadful performance and Tottenham are shipped out of the competition.
The weakened team is of course pointed out repeatedly in the French reports, with it noted Lloris was almost left to save Spurs on his own.
Luckily for Tottenham, Lloris is content. Only last week he explained meeting Pochettino was one of the most important moments of his career.
“There are two important moments in my career. The first was when I signed at Lyon in 2008, where I spent four years with Joël Bats. He’s the one who taught me about the biggest expectations, reach the French team and stay there.
“Then came the meeting with Mauricio Pochettino and Tony Jimenez, the goalkeeping coach. They’re the ones who helped me develop the skills of the modern goalkeeper and become more complete. At Tottenham, the keeper is the first to start attacks, and we take risks. I can’t hide it. I’m happy at the moment.”
It’s the morning after the night before, and there’s obviously irritation that Tottenham fielded a weak team, thereby letting Lloris down somehow, and it’ll calm. The reason it will calm is Lloris, with there being the opposite of agitating for a move coming from the goalkeeper.
Still, the underlying current will remain in France: Hugo Lloris is a level above the club at which he’s playing.