Hugo Lloris is a hero and a villain for Tottenham — single-handedly keeping them in games one week, before turning draws into defeats the next.
On a good day, he is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. But what separates him from the elite is consistency.
The world’s top stoppers rarely drop their standards, whereas the France international has moments of sheer madness deeply entrenched within his game.
Recent reports suggest Lloris, 34, wants to return to Ligue 1 to see out his playing days.
As Jose Mourinho’s men prepare to host Manchester United this afternoon, we explore whether Spurs should cash in at the end of the season.
Learning from rivals
If Tottenham are ever to make the leap from perennial underachievers to winners, a consistent goalkeeper is a must.
Take Liverpool, fo example. Fed up of being losing finalists, they spent a then-world record £66.8million on Alisson Becker.
With a reliable No1 between the sticks, the Reds went on to win the Champions League and the Premier League in his first two seasons at Anfield.
Manchester City also invested big in Ederson and he has delivered for them on countless occasions.
A first-class custodian really can be the difference between success and failure.
The good, the bad and the ugly
Against Newcastle, Lloris pulled off a superb double save to thwart Dwight Gayle — a demonstration of what he is capable of.
However, there have been times this season where he has been beaten far too easily.
Ilkay Gundogan’s first goal in Tottenham’s February defeat to Manchester City is just one example.
City’s No8 got his shot away early but the strike was aimed at the near post and close to Lloris. It was an effort he would be expected to save.
The former Lyon man also palmed Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s shot into his own net in Spurs’ FA Cup exit to Everton. And he spilled Erebechi Eze’s free-kick into the path of Christian Benteke during their victory over Crystal Palace last month.
A history of errors
Lloris has long been something of a divisive figure in North London — primarily because there has always been a mistake in him.
Ex-goalkeeper David Preece penned an article in 2018, questioning his decision making.
The French captain’s reliability was a hot topic towards the end of that year after his erratic performances in Champions League matches against PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.
Former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas was also critical of Lloris the following year, after his late error against Liverpool handed the Reds three points.
Spurs find themselves in a fortunate situation.
Lloris has made a few costly mistakes but, generally speaking, his performances have been good this season.
Measuring goalkeeper performance is difficult. But taking the value of the post-shot expected goals Lloris has faced — that is, efforts on target only — against the number of goals he has actually conceded, he still comes out well.
An average top-flight keeper faced with exactly the same shots as Lloris would have conceded 4.4 more goals.
The right time
Contracted for another 12 months, this could be a natural time for a changing of the guard.
Speaking after Tottenham’s Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb, Lloris’ frustration was evident.
He said: “It is just a disgrace. I just hope everyone in the changing room feels responsible for this situation because it’s a disgrace.”
While the keeper’s outburst drew praise in some quarters, it is unlikely to have gone down well with the players he leads.
From frustration with his team-mates to high-profile errors, this summer may be the perfect time for Spurs’ long-serving keeper to move on to pastures new.