While the rumored transfer of Hugo Lloris to PSG or Manchester United never really caught fire last summer, it was certainly among the most forbidding scenarios from the previous window for Tottenham Hotspur. In a recent interview, Hugo Lloris seemed quite contented at the club and it seems that current manager Mauricio Pochettino has everything to do with it. Here is what the Spurs captain had to say:
"I've flourished completely here," he told L'Equipe. "I can even say that since the arrival of Pochettino I found new benchmarks."
"My second season here was complicated, I had kept a certain level of performance but collectively there were too many gaps and it had been against the big teams."
"I had not felt a strong club, but rather an unstable one, with a coaching change in the middle of the season, just the opposite of what I like to see in football. I was actually asking myself questions until Pochettino arrived.
Lloris came to White Hart Lane highly rated. Widely regarded as one of world's best young goalkeepers, he was firmly France's number one and already a stalwart in a talented Olympique Lyonnais side. His first two seasons couldn't have contrasted more. Lloris was an outstanding performer in the high flying and dramatic Spurs side of 2012-13 that featured Gareth Bale, while also witnessing the doldrums of the ABV / Sherwood led team of 2013-14. That season, in particular, was difficult to watch not only because the squad was a shadow of its former self, but also due to the way that Spurs lost. Against the big clubs, more often than not, Spurs were embarrassed. Yet Hugo was won over almost immediately upon the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, as he decided to sign a contract extension that summer.
"Even when it was not working yet, [Pochettino] said: ‘Do not worry, we will get there.' His speech was clear, we suddenly knew where we were going."
This is powerful because it comes from a player whose services are in demand almost everywhere. There are few goalkeepers in the world who exceed Hugo's excellence. He also isn't a stranger to quality coaching and squads. He has been key cog in the French national team for years and Lyon weren't too shabby of a side either during his tenure. For Pochettino to immediately win his confidence, after such an abysmal campaign, speaks volumes to the sway the Argentine has over his players.
"With the quality of the workforce, and work ethic that is in training, there is no reason that we don't progress."
There is a real belief in this squad and it stems from how hard they are willing to work for their manager. Which brings up two critical aspects to Pochettino's regime; fitness and loyalty. The utterly talented, but mercurial footballer has no place in a Pochettino team. From this end, he attracts players who are committed to the rigors of extreme training. This dually fosters individual improvement and selflessness for the club. One of the reasons Pochettino progresses young players is because they are malleable. Their mentality and expectations of what it means to be a professional footballer can still be forged. When contemplating the type of player who wants to sign for Spurs at seventeen or eighteen or, better yet, that talented twenty-three-year-old who is humble enough to seek more tutelage under Pochettino; well this seems like a very healthy recipe for success and sustainability.
Pochettino is also incredibly loyal. The reason he left Southhampton for Spurs wasn't for a step up in prestige on the managerial ladder, but because a man he respected and was devoted to, Nicola Cortese, was dismissed from the club. It is this same bond that he fosters at Tottenham. It is transparent when players push for their manager on the field and when they do not; this team of exceptional young talent would travel to Mordor for Pochettino. In any other Tottenham era, Lloris, Kane, and Alli would be predicted to play at a top level for Spurs for two, maybe three years, and then move on. While this isn't an impossibility for the future, it seems far less likely that it will happen under a Pochettino led side. Gravitas is the word, and it looks like Pochettino has it.