France’s Goalkeeping Transition

By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70930857

Hugo Lloris has been a big, big part of the French national team for the last decade. He has seen all the highs and the lows, he has seen players make debuts and retire, Lloris has seen it all. Lloris has retired recently, meaning Mike Maignan has replaced him as France’s no.1.

 

It’s the dawn of a new era, their captain has retired. Maignan takes over the position that was one of the few guaranteed positions where the player won’t be dropped. It is a big task for the young Frenchman but he has all the tools to succeed Lloris. 

By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70930857

We are seeing the transition happen in front of our own eyes. We are here to take a look at the careers of both players, how one has achieved a great deal in World Football and the other is just getting started. 

Hugo Lloris 

Early Years

Hugo Lloris started as an attacker in his youth days at the CEDAC (Centre de Diffusion et d’Action Culturelle), he played in a variety of positions. It wasn’t long before coaches at CEDAC noticed Lloris’ impressive goalkeeping skill and he was shifted to the goalie position. 

It was at CEDAC that Lloris caught the eye of Dominique Baratelli, former goalkeeper for Nice and he recommended the club to sign Lloris before someone else poached him. 

Nice 

Lloris joined Nice’s youth academy and after making gradual progress, he was promoted to the club’s reserve team that played in the French fourth division. Lloris shared the spot with Hilaire Munoz as they both alternated playing time. Hugo appeared 12 times for the reserve side. 

After making rapid progress for the reserve side and putting up impressive performances, Lloris was promoted to the first-team squad. 2005 was the breakthrough year for Lloris as he was made the first-choice goalkeeper for the Coupe de la Ligue competition. It was on 25th October 2005 that Lloris made his first-team debut.  

2005-06

Lloris played every game for Nice as they made it to the final of the Coupe de la Ligue. Lloris played the whole final as they were defeated 2-1 by Nancy. In 2005-06, Lloris appeared five times for Nice in Ligue One, keeping a clean sheet on his debut.  

2006-07 

In 2006-07, Lloris was made the club no.1. Hugo kept 13 clean sheets in 37 league appearances for Nice. This looked all the more impressive as Nice finished the season at 16th. 

2007-08

The following 2007-08 was even more impressive as Lloris yet again kept 13 clean sheets but this time in just 30 appearances. Nice finished in 8th position that season, their best finish in Ligue One since 1988-89. 

  • League Appearances: 72
  • Clean Sheets: 27

Olympique Lyonnais

2008-09

In 2008, Hugo Lloris was chased by many top sides in Europe but eventually joined Lyon for 8.5m after his move to AC Milan fell through. Lyon’s European ambition was a big part of Lloris’ decision-making process. 

In his first season at Lyon, Lloris kept a clean sheet in his first four appearances for the club. In total, Lloris kept 16 clean sheets as Lyon missed out on the Ligue 1 title, for the first time in seven years. But, Lloris did make the Ligue 1 Team of the Year and was awarded the UNFP Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year award that season.

2009-10

The 2009-10 season was even better for Lloris personally. Lloris had a star-making Champions League campaign for Lyon. In the group stages, he helped Lyon qualify for the knock-out rounds at the expense of European giants Liverpool, he made several vital saves in a shock win at Anfield. 

In the first knockout round, Lloris and Lyon knocked another European giant Real Madrid out of the competition with Lloris keeping a clean sheet at Stade de Gerland. 

In the league, Lloris kept 16 clean sheets in 36 appearances as Lyon finished 2nd behind Marseille. Lloris won the UNFC Goalkeeper of the Year award for the second year running. Lloris also finished 3rd that year only behind Nicolas Anelka and Yoann Gourcuff for the French Player of the Year award. 

2010-11

The 2010/11 was a frustrating season for Lloris as Lyon again failed to capture the Ligue 1 title and crashed out of the Champions League without making any sort of impact. The only silver lining for Lloris was finishing second behind Julio Caesar for the UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year award.

In his final season at Lyon, Lloris managed to capture silverware for the first time in his career as Lyon won Coupe de France after defeating Quevilly 1-0 in the final. Lloris was yet against voted the best Goalkeeper in Ligue 1 despite Lyon finishing 4th. Lloris’ 3rd win in 4 years. 

  • Appearances: 146
  • Clean Sheets: 49
  • Trophies: 2(Coupe de France, Trophee des Champions)

Tottenham Hotspur

2012-13

Hugo Lloris signed for Tottenham Hotspurs before the 2012/13 campaign for a reported fee of 10m with 5m add-ons. The Frenchman had a solid first campaign for the North London side. Lloris made his Spurs debut in a Europa League game against Lazio in which he kept a clean sheet. 

After settling in, Lloris displaced Brad Friedel to become the club’s undisputed no.1. Lloris made a total of 25 league appearances and kept 9 clean sheets. 

2013-14

2013/14 was a season to remember for Lloris, not for a good reason though as his head collided with Lukaku’s knee in a game against Everton and lost consciousness. He later got back up and played through, both Hugo and Spurs manager Villas-Boas were criticized for playing through a potential concussion. Lloris made 37 league appearances keeping 14 clean sheets in the process. 

Lloris’ golden period at Spurs was about to begin as Mauricio Pochettino took charge of Spurs and convinced the Frenchman to sign a new 5-year deal at the club in July 2014. 

2014-15

In the 2014-15 season, Lloris was sent off for the first time in his career as he was given his marching order against Asteras Tripoli in a 5-1 win in a UEFA Europa League game. Spurs reached the final of the League Cup where Lloris started the game but they were eventually beaten 2-0 by Chelsea. 

2015-16 

In August 2015, Hugo Lloris was named the new permanent captain of Tottenham Hotspurs replacing Younes Kaboul. It was the first time Lloris had captained a side. 

The 2015-16 season showed a lot of early potential as Spurs started the season strongly and later became a title challenger. But their challenge fizzled out by the end of the campaign as they eventually finished 3rd in the table. Lloris had kept an impressive 13 clean sheets in 37 games.  

2016-17 

In 2016-17, Lloris played in the Champions League for the first time with Spurs and unsurprisingly he had a terrific campaign even though Spurs got knocked out in the group stage. Lloris made remarkable saves in games against Leverkusen and Monaco keeping most of the attacks at bay.

Lloris was terrific in the league campaign as well. Tottenham had the best defensive record in the Premier League conceding only 26 goals. The Frenchman recorded 15 clean sheets as Spurs finished 2nd in the league.  

2017-18

In the 2017-18 season, Lloris achieved a milestone with Tottenham Hotspurs as he became only the 6th goalkeeper in the club’s history to make 250 appearances.  

2018-19

The 2018-19 was a huge season for both Lloris and Spurs that eventually ended in tears. Still, Lloris had an outstanding personal campaign, especially in Europe. Lloris had a remarkable Champions League campaign as Spurs defeated all odds and made it to the Champions League final in Madrid. 

Lloris was outstanding in knockout games against Dortmund and Manchester City, the latter were favourites to win the whole thing but a resilient Spurs side led by Lloris knocked them out in the quarterfinals. Lloris and Spurs fell on the final hurdle as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners in the final. 

Lloris kept a combined 16 clean sheets in the Champions League and Premier League. 

2019-20

Lloris was sidelined for a good chunk of the 2019-20 season due to a dislocated elbow injury suffered against Brighton. Lloris still managed to make 21 League and 4 Champions League appearances keeping 4 clean sheets. 

The Downfall at Spurs

2020-21

Lloris started to regress at Spurs after the dislocation of his elbow last year. In 2020-21, Lloris still had something to celebrate as he was able to keep his 100th clean sheet for Spurs in the Premier League. A record for a Spurs goalkeeper in the Premier League era. He also played his 100th game in Europe that season, a first for a French goalkeeper.  

2021-22  

In 2021-22, Lloris yet again extended his Spurs contract, this time till 2024. He made his 300th Premier League appearance for Spurs against Wolves and also made his 400th appearance in all competitions for the club that same season against Manchester City.

Despite a bit of an error-prone season, Lloris matched his clean sheet telly at Spurs and then broke it in a win against Norwich City. Lloris ended up with 16 clean sheets that season. 

2022-23

In the 2022-23 campaign, Lloris made a paltry 25 league appearances for Spurs and kept 7 clean sheets. By this time it was clear Lloris was on his way out of the club. 

2023-24

End of an era. Lloris was left out of the squad by newly appointed manager Ange Postecoglou. Lloris held talks with several different clubs but he couldn’t agree on terms with any of them and as of this moment remains at Spurs. 

  • Appearances: 361
  • Clean Sheets: 128

International Career

Hugo Lloris earned his first cap for France on 19th November 2008 in a 0-0 draw against Uruguay. Lloris received his first red card for France in a game against Serbia as he was sent off unjustly for fouling Zigic in the penalty area. After suspension, he was reinstated to the team.   

2010: World Cup

Lloris had a performance of a lifetime against the Republic of Ireland in the two-legged play-off games to qualify for the World Cup. He was heralded as a hero in his home country and even given the moniker “Saint Lois” for saving France from the embarrassment of not qualifying for the World Cup. 

The eventual World Cup was a mixed bag for Lloris and France. Lloris kept a clean sheet in their opening group stage game against Uruguay in a 0-0 draw. France then lost to Mexico and then got eliminated from the group stage after a 2-1 defeat by hosts South Africa. 

Lloris made a mistake for one of the South African goals but he had a decent World Cup in comparison to the other outfield players.  

2012: European Championship

Lloris was named as the permanent captain before the tournament by manager Laurent Blanc. France was eliminated by eventual winners Spain in the quarterfinals of the Euros. Nonetheless, Lloris captained his national side in a major tournament for the very first time. 

2014: World Cup 

Lloris kept 3 clean sheets for France as they went out again in the quarterfinal of a major tournament and yet again got eliminated by an eventual winner, this time it was Germany.  

2016: European Championship

France reached the finals of the Euros on their home soil. Lloris had a cracking tournament as he managed 3 clean sheets on their way to the finals. Unfortunately, Portugal defeated France in the final 1-0.

2018: World Cup

A dream was realised. France and Lloris won the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Lloris earned his 100th cap for France in the group stages of the World Cup. Lloris managed to keep 4 clean sheets throughout the tournament and despite a mistake leading to a Croatian goal in the final, France was able to lift the World Cup for only the 2nd time in their history. 

Lloris was able to lift the World Cup as a captain, a dream he had since his childhood.  

2019-22: UEFA Nations League, Euros, World Cup, and retirement. 

Lloris and France had low-key bad back-to-back tournaments after their World Cup win. It wasn’t until the 2021 UEFA Nations League that Lloris was able to lift another trophy for France.

France defeated Spain in the final of the 2021 UEFA Nations League to lift their second major title in the last 3 years. 

Lloris broke the appearances record at the 2022 World Cup. First, he broke Lilian Thuram’s record for the most capped French player of all time, then he broke the record of being the player with the most World Cup appearances – he eventually made 20 appearances including the final. France lost the final on penalties against Argentina after a thrilling 3-3 draw after the extra time. 

Hugo Lloris announced his retirement from the French National team after the World Cup.

  • Appearances: 145
  • Clean Sheets: 62
  • Trophies: 2018 World Cup, 2021 UEFA Nations League 

Mike Maignan 

Embed from Getty Images

Early Years

Mike Maignan joined the Paris Saint-German youth academy at the age of 17. He played for their reserve sides and made appearances in the UEFA Youth League. 

His performances for the reserve side earned him a place on the bench a couple of times for the senior squad. He never made an appearance for PSG but his potential was clear. 

Lille

Maignan joined Lille for 1m. He spent two years making appearances for Lille’s reserve side before an expected opportunity arrived.  

2015-16

Maignan made his senior debut. It was an unplanned moment as first-choice Vincent Enyeama was sent-off and Maignan came on as a sub. His first action for Lille was to save the resulting penalty for which Enyeama got sent off. Maignan made 4 further appearances that year.  

2016-17

Maginan was mostly used in cup competition for Lille but whenever he got an opportunity in the league he impressed. Maignan kept 4 clean sheets in just 7 league appearances that season.  

2017-18

A breakthrough year. Marcelo Bielsa made Mike Maignan his permanent first-choice goalkeeper moving forward. He was sent off in his second appearance that season. Still, he managed to make 34 appearances that season keeping 6 clean sheets.  

2018-19

Maignan had his best campaign in his young career in 2018-19. Maignan kept 17 clean sheets in the league and also saved three penalties that campaign. Lille finished the season runners-up to PSG. 

Maignan was also elected as the Best Goalkeeper of the year by the UNFP that year. 

2019-2020

A season was curtailed due to Covid. Maignan made 28 appearances that season keeping 12 sheets.  

2020-21  

A Star-making campaign indeed. Lille and Maignan did the impossible and beat PSG to the Ligue 1 title that season. Lille was sensational that year, it was near impossible to beat PSG to a league title but Lille did it that year. 

Maignan kept an incredible 21 clean sheets that season, one shy of the league record as Lille pipped PSG by a point to win the league title. 

  • Appearances: 149
  • Clean Sheets: 59
  • Trophies: Ligue 1 

AC Milan

In the 2021 summer window, Mike Maignan joined AC Milan for a reported fee of 15m.  

2021-2022

Maignan made an instant impact on his arrival at Milan. He kept a clean sheet on his debut against Sampdoria. He suffered a wrist injury for which he had to go for surgery in October but he came back within six weeks to take back the starting position. 

Maignan kept 17 clean sheets in just 32 appearances as AC Milan won the league for the first time in 10 years. Maignan also recorded an assist, the first of his career, against Sampdoria when he assisted Rafael Leao for the game’s only goal in their 1-0 win.  

2022-23

Maignan had a very disruptive 2022-23 campaign as a disrupted calf muscle injury kept Maignan out for 25 games. Despite that, he still had an impact on the season as his penalty save from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in the 2nd leg of a Champions Leg tie against an in-form Napoli helped his side to a 1-1 draw. Milan had already won the first leg 1-0, which meant Milan went through to the semifinals on that saved spot-kick. 

Maignan made 22 league appearances that campaign keeping 8 clean sheets. 

  • Appearances: 58
  • Clean Sheets: 25
  • Trophies: Serie A 

International Career

Maignan has played at every youth level for France. He was eventually handed his France debut in a friendly game against Ukraine when he replaced Steve Mandanda as a half-time substitute in a 7-1 win at Stade de France.

Mike Maignan was called up for the 2020 European Championship as one of the back-up keepers for Lloris. On June 6th, 2022, Maignan finally made his competitive debut for France in a 1-1 draw with Croatia in the UEFA Nations League. 

Maignan missed the 2022 World Cup due to a calf injury that also hampered his AC Milan season. 

Mike Maignan was promoted and named the first-choice goalkeeper for France after the retirement of Hugo Lloris. 

  • Appearances: 10
  • Clean Sheets: 6

Passing of the Torch

With Lloris retiring and Maignan taking his place, the passing of the torch has already been done. It remains to be seen though if Mike Maignan can have a similar impact as his predecessor. The shoes are big to fill in but Maignan is well capable of filling them.