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Nice to meet you: French club makes Hugo Lloris top summer target

It’s certainly romantic, but the finances might get in the way.

French L1 football team Lyon (OL) new g Photo credit should read PHILIPPE MERLE/AFP via Getty Images

The rumors about Hugo Lloris’ future at Tottenham Hotspur won’t go away until he either signs a contract extension or decides to leave this summer to sign for a different club. Both seem like distinct possibilities. By the time his contract expires in June, Hugo will have been at Spurs for a full decade, a long time for a player of any position and a length of time that would qualify him for a testimonial.

There have been plenty of rumors that Hugo is perfectly content to stick around at Spurs for another year or so and that Tottenham are keen to offer him a short term extension. But Hugo’s also getting older — he just turned 35 — and he’s talked in the past about a return to France before he hangs up his gloves for good.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Nice listed as a potential destination for Lloris this summer. Foot Mercato’s Santi Aouna certainly thinks so — in an article posted today, he suggests that OGC Nice is ready to make Lloris one of their top transfer targets this summer on a free transfer. It’s certainly a romantic option — Hugo was born in Nice and came up through Nice’s academy there. It’s also where he broke through into first team football before being snapped up by Olympique Lyon in 2008. Hugo clearly has warm feelings for the club and the city — he’d be close to family and old friends, and there’s absolutely something to ending one’s career in the place where you began it. In addition, Nice’s current starter Walter Benitez is likely to leave the club this summer, leaving a potential opening for Hugo. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s a tempting offer as he heads towards the twilight years of his career.

The financial reality is a little bit murkier. Hugo’s currently making around £100k/wk at Tottenham, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him get a hefty pay bump if he were to accept a new deal at the club. Contrast that to Nice — their entire salary budget this year is around €26m, meaning Hugo’s salary alone is over 20% of their entire budget. Near as I can tell, Justin Kluivert is the team’s highest wage earner, making just over €60k/wk; Mario Lemina, whom Nice signed from Southampton this summer, might make more than that. Either way, assuming Hugo doesn’t take a significant pay cut, that’s a not-insignificant amount of cash for a 35-year old keeper, especially for a French club not named PSG.

Nice was just purchased by Jim Ratcliffe, a billionaire chemical magnate and the richest man in the UK who left the country to avoid taxes (sound like any Tottenham owners we know?), and it’s possible that he’s injected the club with cash to help them through COVID and also attract some better players. But unless Nice is willing to make a pretty big offer that meets Tottenham’s AND if Hugo has a pretty strong sentimental streak, I don’t think this is especially likely.

Hugo has certainly more than earned the right to make whatever decision he wants to make regarding his future, and we shouldn’t begrudge him at all if he chooses to move on after a decade at Spurs. However, despite Nice’s current position as second in the table, I am skeptical that he’d decide to return home right now. He’s still got a few years left as a top level keeper, and I’d expect him to want to compete at the highest level he can.