Tottenham Hotspur are looking at options to replace Hugo Lloris, both in the short and the long term. In the immediate term, Hugo is a doubt for this weekend’s North London Derby after picking up a thigh injury against Leicester City that ruled him out of both of France’s Nations League matches over the international break. If he’s not able to play, it is almost certain that Antonio Conte will turn to newly-signed backup keeper Fraser Forster to play at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
But there’s a bigger issue as well. Hugo is 35 and has been at Spurs for a decade. He’s widely tipped to leave Spurs at the conclusion of his contract in 2024, and to date Tottenham have not secured a long term replacement for him, assuming that they won’t be leaning of Forster for that position. But according to the Evening Standard, Spurs are trying to be proactive. Nizaar Kinsella writes that Atletico Madrid’s 29 year old Slovenian keeper Jan Oblak is a potential option and that Spurs are likely to try and find Hugo’s successor this summer.
So this is a weird rumor. Oblak is considered one of, if not the, best keepers in the world. Snagging him this summer would be a coup, and he’d be high on the list of any club that’s looking for a keeper upgrade, including Manchester United who is reportedly also interested in him to replace David De Gea, as well as Chelsea. Also weird is that Oblak’s contract currently runs until 2028, so it’s strange that Atletico would consider letting him go arguably during his peak years.
It’s possible that Atletico is still COVID-broke and see an aging world-class talent as a means of raising funds. But the length of Oblak’s existing contract suggests that if he is indeed available he won’t be cheap. I have no idea what a keeper of Oblak’s caliber would go for in this current market, and it’s not like Tottenham don’t have money now, but dropping tons of money for a peak keeper would certainly be out of character for a club like Spurs, new stadium money notwithstanding.
The Standard states that Oblak has a release clause of £107m, but “that figure is thought to have lowered significantly.” He would command significant weekly wages, though again that is less of an issue for Spurs now than it was a couple of years ago.
I dunno. Oblak is amazing and it’d be incredible to see him suiting up for Spurs in the future, but there are risks involved. As good as he is, signing a 29-year old keeper doesn’t strike me as a long term succession plan, but maybe I need to retool my expectations. It’s almost certainly unusual to land a keeper of Hugo’s talent and ability at age 25 and keep him for ten years of high level football, and it’s probably not realistic to assume that’s going to happen again. It’s also possible that Spurs are now at a level where going after players of Oblak’s caliber are no longer seen as risible, and we should retool our expectations of what kinds of players Tottenham are going to be targeting going forward as well.
I’m doubtful about this one. But it’d sure be neat! And Tottenham are going to have to figure out the long term Hugo Problem™ soon.