Hugo Lloris returns as Spurs captain - but he is still a target for Manchester United

There is no avoiding the fact that the French keeper is United's first choice should De Gea leave, which looks increasingly likely

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The Independent Online

Hugo Lloris will begin his tenure as Tottenham Hotspur’s official captain today, at home against Stoke City, although that will not stop the questions about the future of the French goalkeeper.

Last Saturday, at Old Trafford, Lloris was left on the bench, prompting natural suspicions that it was because he was not ready to face the team who will surely try to sign him should David De Gea join Real Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted at his press conference this week that this reading was wrong. Lloris was “very happy” to be at Tottenham and wanted to play in the Champions League with Spurs, rather than with anyone else. Lloris’s position on the bench at Old Trafford, then, had been due to him being physically unready, after injury, rather than mentally unwilling.

“I didn’t take that decision because of all the rumours,” said Pochettino. “Hugo wasn’t ready. If the game last week was Stoke City, he would not have played.”

 

Lloris, though, had played 35 minutes of a friendly against Milan three days before, in which he made a strong save from Keisuke Honda, suggesting, as it was put to Pochettino, that his genuine wrist injury might not still be troubling him. Pochettino joked that he could have saved the shot himself, and that Lloris had still not been fully ready for 90 minutes of Premier League competition.

“It is not about the injury,” Pochettino explained. “The player is not only one or two hands, one or two legs. It is about everything. For me, he was not fit to play 90 minutes. That competition is different from playing friendly games.”

But the uncertainty about Lloris’s future will stop only if, at 6pm on Tuesday 1 September, when the transfer window closes, he has not signed for Manchester United. There is no avoiding the fact that he is United’s first choice should De Gea leave, which looks increasingly likely. If United were to approach Tottenham, Lloris would be open to the move to say the least.

“There are a lot of rumours, Hugo is very happy to be here,” said Pochettino. “His commitment to the club is high. We need to be happy because if Manchester United want Lloris, it is because he is a great goalkeeper. But Hugo has a contract here, and is happy here, and wants success here.”

Lloris said in early June that his priority was to play again in the Champions League. But Pochettino remained bullish. “He is keen to play in the Champions League with Tottenham, not with another club, he told me that,” the head coach said.

“Hugo is keen, one day, to play in the Champions League with Tottenham. That is his dream. And you don’t need to convince him to stay, because he has a four-year contract. It is not a big problem, no?”

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