Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has talked up his “champion” goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ahead of Sunday’s reunion with World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez.
Lloris will return to the Spurs starting-line up for this weekend’s fixture with Aston Villa after being on the bench for the Boxing Day draw with Brentford.
France captain Lloris will come up against a familiar foe in fellow goalkeeper Martinez, who starred in a penalty shoot-out to help Argentina become world champions in Qatar before drawing criticism for his post-final antics.
“I think we lose time if we talk about Hugo because his career speaks for itself. We are talking about one of the best keepers in the world in the past 10 years. We are talking about a top keeper and a top man. I think he will continue to play for many years,” Conte said.
“We’re talking about a champion in his role. His career speaks very clear. He won the World Cup but he was always a protagonist with his national team.
“For Tottenham, I don’t know how many years he’s played for Tottenham, but he’s a guarantee for us.”
Conte expects Martinez to start Sunday’s match but warned the Argentinian he cannot yet be put in the same league as fellow World Cup winner Lloris, who captained France to success in 2018.
He added: “Martinez is younger than Hugo. He played a really good World Cup, he made important saves.
“Don’t forget in the final, in the 119th minute, he made a fantastic save, otherwise we are talking about a France World Cup instead of Argentina. He’s a player who can continue to grow but you’re talking about a really good goalkeeper.
“Martinez, in this moment, first of all, he won the World Cup and he was a protagonist in winning the most important trophy in the world.
“Then, for sure, he has a long career to show and to be the best and one of the best keepers in the world, but, I repeat, like Cuti (Cristian Romero), now starts the difficult situation.
“Now, you are high but you have to stay high and possibly to improve and show that it wasn’t a one-off situation.
“Important players, after a win, they build an important career and, starting with this win, then to win, win and improve their level.”
Lloris had to move on quickly from his Qatar heartbreak after being asked to be a substitute at Brentford only eight days on from the final on December 18.
“For sure, when you lose a final of the World Cup, your feeling is not so good,” Conte admitted.
“But it was really good for Hugo to put the disappointment to one side and then to come back in a fantastic way.
“I see him totally involved from the first day with us.
“I asked him to come back early, to stay with us for the game against Brentford, he was on the bench but his figure is very important for the dressing room for the whole Tottenham environment. Now, he’s ready.”