Pochettino confirms identity of Tottenham’s new captain
Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Hugo Lloris is Tottenham’s new club captain, and he says he has no concerns over the goalkeeper’s future.
Lloris, who skippers the France national team, seemed to be a strong contender for the role at Spurs last summer, after Michael Dawson was sold to Hull.
However, Pochettino picked Younes Kaboul – a decision which backfired as the centre-back fell out of favour dramatically following the 2-1 home defeat against Stoke in early November. Kaboul only played three more games in the following six months and has since departed to Sunderland.
Lloris frequently deputised last term and now, as Spurs prepare to host Stoke again tomorrow, Pochettino has announced that he has given the armband to Lloris on a permanent basis.
“It is Hugo, and Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane are the vice-captains,” said the head coach. “It was common sense. I think Hugo deserves to be the captain and after that we have Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane. It’s a good reference for the group, it’s a very good mix.”
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Asked why he did not choose Lloris last season, Pochettino said: “Because of different things, I decided to give the armband to Younes. But I’m happy with the way we take this decision and now the way we take the decision about Hugo.”
Given that Spurs have sold their club captain in each of the last two summers – Dawson and then Kaboul – Tottenham fans might be a little nervous to see Lloris taking the position, especially as Manchester United are thought to be eyeing the goalkeeper as a replacement for David de Gea, if the Spaniard was to head off to Real Madrid.
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Lloris also expressed his “hope to play Champions League football again” in June, contributing to the speculation over his future.
Asked about Spurs’ recent habit of selling their club captain, Pochettino laughed: “That was a co-incidence. There are a lot of rumours. Hugo is very happy to be here, his commitment with the club is high. We need to be happy because if Manchester United want Lloris, it’s because he’s a great goalkeeper.
“We have a very good goalkeeper. But Hugo has a contract here and he is happy here, and he wants to get success here.
“He is keen to play in the Champions League with Tottenham, not with another club. He told me ‘I want to play in the Champions League with Tottenham’. After, [what he said] in interviews, I don’t know.
“Hugo is keen, one day, to play in the Champions League with Tottenham. I think that is his dream, it’s our dream - and you don’t need to convince him to stay because he has a four-year contract. It’s not a big problem, no?”
Lloris is set to lead the team out in his first start of the season when Tottenham entertain Stoke at the Lane tomorrow, having recovered from a fractured wrist sustained during the summer.
The goalkeeper was only deemed fit enough for the bench for last Saturday’s opening Premier League fixture at Old Trafford, which raised eyebrows given he had played for the final 35 minutes of Spurs’ last friendly against AC Milan three days previously and seemingly showed off the strength in his wrists by fending off a powerful drive from Rodrigo Ely.
“The ball was straight to him, if I was in the goal maybe I could have saved it too,” said Pochettino with a laugh. “It’s ok, it was good, I’m joking.
“He played 35 minutes, not 45 minutes, against Milan. When we started the pre-season, six weeks before, we worked on a lot of things, not only saves. The feeling that the players have is important. For him, it was tough. He was not ready to play 90 minutes against Manchester United. The competition [in the Premier League] is different from playing friendly games.
“I didn’t take this decision because of all the rumours that happened. No, Hugo wasn’t ready. If the game last week was against Stoke City, he wouldn’t have played - same decision.
“It is not about the injury. The player is not only one or two hands, one or two legs. It is about [everything]. For me, he wasn’t fit to play 90 minutes.”
Pochettino’s assistant coach Jesus Perez added: “Physically his hand was ok, but he didn’t train with the team specifically, and there are so many aspects of the game that the team has been training. Sometimes the doctor says one player is ok, but the player feels weak to play.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs