Pau Lopez: A future successor to Lloris?
Last season, young goalkeeper Pau Lopez was playing in some of the most iconic stadiums in the world, in one of the worlds best leagues. This season, the Spanish youth international has featured in only four matches for Spurs’ development side swapping the likes of the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabéu for the likes of the Lamex stadium in Stevenage. When Pau Lopez joined Spurs on a season long loan from La Liga side Espanyol on transfer deadline day in the summer, the Spaniards arrival at Hotspur way was met with some confusion from Spurs supporters. With Michel Vorm being an effective deputy to the phenomenal Hugo Lloris, one would question was their really a need to get a goalkeeper in for the current season? However, it was quite clear that Pochettino had not signed Lopez merely for cover in case a goalkeeping injury crisis occurs, but for his huge potential and ability in the nets. The 22 year old goalkeepers breakthrough season at the Catalonian club occurred during the 2015-16 season following the departure of Kiko Casilla. Having joined the Espanyol youth ranks back in 2007 from boyhood club Girona, Pau was a player that Pochettino knew well during his tenure at the Barcelona club. Last seasons campaign for a struggling Espanyol side, saw Pau Lopez record a string of top performances and his overall goalkeeping ability saw him gain the reputation of one of Spain’s hottest goalkeeping prospects. He was duly rewarded with a place in Spain’s provisional Euro 2016 squad, having first watched Lopez play last season for the Pericos, I became aware of the Spaniards tremendous shot stopping ability, his excellent handling of the ball and also his all roundness in between the sticks, in the fact that he has all the raw attributes of an exciting young goalkeeper.
Pau reminds me in some ways of compatriot David De Gea in regards to his terrific shot stopping, particularly from close range. Having featured on four occasions so far for the under 23’s side during the current campaign, I have managed to see two of those matches and I was really impressed with the youngsters performance on both ccasions. Lopez was faultless in the two games that I saw him, he made some fine reflex saves, but their was one moment in the game against Sunderland under 23’s when he made a reflex save that left the crowd stunned, it was truly sensational. In addition his handling and anticipation were similarly impressive, his commanding in the air and certainly doesn’t lack in confidence. Lopez is an exciting prospect, he was one of the finest young goalkeepers in Europe last season and I reckon Pochettino’s long term project for Pau, is for him to be the number 1 goalkeeper for the Lillywhites, and I honestly believe that he could go on to replicate the excellence of Lloris in years to come. From what I’ve seen of Lopez at Espanyol and in the Spurs development side, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was to go on and be Lloris’ future successor. Spurs have an option to buy Lopez and I’m confident that they we will go ahead and do that in the summer, the Spanish under 21 international is still developing but his shown his class on the La Liga stage, and if for any reason Vorm were to move on in the near future, Lopez would become an efficient back up to Lloris.
On the other hand our youth academy currently has a handful of brilliant young goalkeepers, including Luke McGee, Alfie Whiteman, Tom Glover and Jonathan De Bie to name but a few. I firmly believe that all those players could go onto have successful careers at Spurs, but their not really ready to make that permanent step up to spurs’ senior team, where as Lopez is. In my opinion Lopez is a special young player who I’m confident will go on and have a very good career, and I hope that he enjoys that good career at Spurs, I feel we’d really regret not buying him. I see no reason why he can’t go on and become our number one goalkeeper in the next five years.
Skip to 1:05 to see Lopez in action: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=405iDZ9nW-Q