Paulo Gazzaniga is giving Mauricio Pochettino a big problem. Can the Argentine displace Hugo Lloris as Tottenham’s No. 1 keeper?
When Hugo Lloris suffered a horrible elbow injury it logically caused Tottenham fans to wonder whether or not Paulo Gazzaniga could step in for him in goal. Thus far, the emphatic answer to that question has been yes. In fact, there’s a logical argument to be made that Gazzaniga has done enough to keep Lloris on the bench when he returns to full fitness.
Obviously, that would be a controversial call by Mauricio Pochettino. Lloris has been a long-standing servant of the club and wore the captain’s armband before injury forced him to the sidelines. The club stuck with him even after he suffered an embarrassing arrest for drink driving last year.
That doesn’t mean it’s a call Pochettino will be afraid to make. It’s hard to argue with how good Gazzaniga has looked in recent weeks. He was imperious with his efforts to keep Spurs in the match at Anfield a few weeks ago. The Argentine keeper arguably deserved a clean sheet against Everton last weekend before his club was besieged by the Toffees after Heung-Min Son’s red card.
In the end, he did manage to get his away clean sheet on Wednesday at Red Star. He didn’t need to do a ton to earn that Champions League honour, but his effectiveness in the net shouldn’t be discounted.
The difference between the two keepers is fairly straightforward. Gazzaniga is the bigger of the two by a fair margin. He isn’t quite as quick as his French teammate, but his sheer size allows him to be just as good of a shot stopper. Perhaps most importantly, Gazzaniga has thus far avoided the sort of catastrophic errors that have plagued Lloris in recent years.
In fairness to Lloris, he is the much better player with the ball at his feet. Pochettino and his coaching staff don’t ask much from Gazzaniga on that front. The number of long balls he plays dwarfs what Spurs do with Lloris on the pitch. It’s clear Spurs want to keep things as simple as possible for their inexperienced keeper.
Add it all up and it’s easy to make a logical argument for either player. The tiebreaker may come down to finances. Lloris can likely be sold for a hefty sum if Tottenham do decide to let him go. Gazzaniga wouldn’t have nearly as much value on the transfer market. If Spurs believe they’re equals, the right move will be to capitalize financially on Lloris once he proves he’s healthy again.
In the end, it’s a great problem for Spurs to have. Choosing between two possible No. 1 keepers is much better than scrambling to find one goalie you can trust. It’s still something Tottenahm fans should watch closely over the next several months.