THE role of the third-choice goalkeeper has always seemed strange, looking in from the outside, and certainly not one to which Hugo Lloris has been accustomed.
But that is, at best, what the World Cup winner has become at Tottenham, having been usurped by Guglielmo Vicario in the summer before snubbing various offers to leave.
A legend for France with 145 caps and captain of Spurs for eight years, Lloris has been reduced to the forgotten man in North London.
Fans outside of N17 may be surprised to hear he is still a Spurs player at all.
Factually, he remains a part of Ange Postecoglou's squad.
But in reality it would take a monumental injury crisis – and do not discount that at Tottenham right now – to see the veteran between the sticks for Tottenham again.
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He has not been included on a single team sheet this season.
Not even August’s League Cup defeat to Fulham where Fraser Forster was one of a number of changes Postecoglou made to his regular starting XI that night.
Lloris was only put in Spurs’ 25-man Premier League squad because he was surprisingly still at the club come the end of summer window, but Postecoglou had little intention of actually using the 36-year-old.
Lloris had an open and honest chat with his new manager when the Aussie took charge in June.
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The Frenchman expressed his desire to move on after 11 years at the club; Postecoglou was fine with that as he had plans to bring in a new No1 anyway, which turned out to be Italian Vicario from Empoli for £17million.
It was mutually agreed Lloris would skip the pre-season tour to Australia, Thailand and Singapore to focus on finding a new club.
But as the summer wore in, it looked increasingly likely that he might stay.
There was definite interest: by the end of the window, Lloris had two offers from Saudi Arabia, one from Lazio, another from Newcastle and finally, from boyhood club Nice.
He rejected the moves to Saudi, believed to be due to family reasons, as well as Rome and Tyneside as he did not want to be a back-up to a No1.
The offer of Nice seemed to be the perfect fit: it is where Lloris was born, his first club before he joined Lyon in 2008 and he had always signalled his intention to play for the Les Aiglons again before his career was out.
Yet he turned them down too, claiming the offer came too late on deadline day.
The stopper explained at the time: “The supporters (of Nice) and the team deserve better than a split-second decision based on a phone call without expectations or a clear sporting project with one hour until the closure of the window at a time where I wasn’t expecting it.”
So Lloris stayed put and continued to come into Spurs every day to train as professionally as he ever did.
Unlike predecessor Antonio Conte, Postecoglou does not put out-of-favour players in a ‘bomb squad’ to force them out of the club.
The Spurs boss explained earlier this month: “Unless a player expressly says to me or desires he wants to leave and I know his head space is somewhere else, I don’t see any reason to separate him from the group because they’re part of our football club.”
Postecoglou was answering a question from SunSport about Eric Dier, who too could have left in the summer, stayed and is now in the team following Micky van de Ven’s injury.
You cannot see that happening though with Lloris, who to his credit has not sulked at his situation.
If anything, he has been very helpful to the man who replaced him, Vicario, offering tips from his wealth of experience when the pair work together at the club’s Hotspur Way training ground.
Yet surely Lloris has more to offer than that, still four years shy of his 40th birthday, and the hope is he will move on in January.
Spurs were not asking for a fee in the summer and presumably would not now for a player whose deal is up in the summer. They certainly will not stand in his way of an exit.
Lloris’ last game for Spurs was the 6-1 horrorshow at Newcastle in April, when he came off injured at half-time with his side 5-0 down.
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Barring a shock, that will sadly be his last game for Tottenham, 446 on from his first back in 2012.
Yet the hope is that it will not be the final match of what has been an exemplary career.
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