The signing of Joe Hart is a masterstroke by Jose Mourinho | THT Transfer Analysis

The Hard Tackle takes a close look at Joe Hart’s shock move to Tottenham Hotspur this summer and goalkeeper’s prospects at his new club.

Tottenham Hotspur have recently confirmed the arrival of Joe Hart. The famed goalkeeper has joined the club on a free transfer, signing a two-year contract that would see him remain in north London until 2022.

Hart becomes the second signing for Tottenham, following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who was signed from Southampton earlier this month. And while the Dane’s addition to the club made sense given Spurs’ lack of options in the holding midfield role, his fellow arrival has certainly raised a lot of eyebrows.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at Hart’s move to Tottenham Hotspur.

The Curious Case of Hugo Lloris

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur reacts during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on November 28, 2017 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
A man in decline. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The 2019/20 campaign was the season when all of the collective problems under Mauricio Pochettino occurred in the same year, leaving it to Jose Mourinho to pick up the pieces. The goalkeeping department, in particular, has emerged as one of Spurs’ main weaknesses.

Hugo Lloris is still the first-choice ‘keeper for Spurs. However, it will be ignorant of us to not describe the Frenchman’s massive decline over the past two years.

One of the main criticisms Lloris has faced in recent years pertains to his poor decision-making. The veteran ‘keeper has made numerous errors when moving out of his line to clear the ball while his lack of quality on the ball has also been evident.

As a matter of fact, Lloris belongs to the bottom of the charts when it comes to making average defensive actions outside the penalty area. He is sensationally ranked at the bottom among all the other regular Premier League ‘keepers. Such incompetence outside the box has ultimately made it difficult for him to compete with the league’s other top goalkeepers like Alisson and Ederson.

A strong finish to the 2019/20 campaign, however, did redeem Lloris, to an extent, with the 33-year-old attaining the highest save percentage than anyone else in the Premier League. He also had the fifth-lowest goals-against tally per 90 minutes (1.05), although it is fair to point out that he had played in only 21 league matches.

Lloris isn’t a great sweeper-keeper. [Courtesy: FB Ref]

Nevertheless, Lloris still has the quality to retain his status as the first-choice goalkeeper for a club like Tottenham Hotspur. But with Mourinho ready to make changes, the Frenchman must improve and remain consistent.

What Does It Mean For Paulo Gazzaniga?

Perhaps the only reason that led Spurs to make a move for Hart is the incompetence of the club’s second-choice goalkeeper, Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Argentine has had a totally different story than his compatriot Emiliano Martinez at Arsenal last season, having failed to impress the onlookers despite getting regular game-time in the absence of Lloris.

Indeed, Gazzaniga featured in as many as 18 matches this past season, attaining an average save percentage of 70%. And while it isn’t a bad statistic by any terms, it is nowhere near Emi Martinez’s sensational 80% tally, which is not enough for the Argentine to dethrone Bernd Leno as the first-choice ‘keeper at Arsenal.

From a stylistic sense, Gazzaniga is far better than Lloris when it comes to dealing with situations outside the box (0.71 defensive actions outside the box per 90).

But in the end, it is the performance that matters and after failing to dethrone Lloris,  Gazzaniga’s prospects at Tottenham are unlikely to increase any time soon, especially following the arrival of Hart.

How Does Joe Hart Fit Into All This?

Joe Hart’s inclusion to the Tottenham side is certainly interesting on many levels. The Englishman is someone who is in obvious decline following disappointing spells at Torino, West Ham United and Burnley. He has also lost his place in the England national side and was notably linked with a move to Celtic earlier in the summer.

Another masterful performance in the waiting for Joe Hart? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)
An ideal man to strengthen Tottenham’s goalkeeping department? (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

However, Hart brings an important asset that is often gets overlooked in modern football, as the game gets ever more athletic and tactical – experience and pedigree.

Indeed, Hart is one of most successful English players in the current generation, having made almost 350 competitive appearances for Manchester City and winning two Premier League titles and an FA Cup. His experience at the highest level of football, combined with his success could bring some much-needed winning mentality at Tottenham.

From a tactical perspective, Hart is also a more able competitor for Lloris as both the goalkeepers have almost the same level of pedigree. Besides, his more conservative style of keeping is better suited to Mourinho’s dynamic tactical philosophy that doesn’t necessarily require goalkeepers to come out of their lines due to the deep-defensive block.

In essence, Tottenham’s style of play is more similar to Manchester City before the arrival of Guardiola. And with that in mind, Hart could be an excellent addition to the club as he will provide an incentive for both Gazzaniga and Lloris to fight for a place in the starting lineup.

It is, in fact, only fair to acknowledge how smart Mourinho is faring in the ongoing summer transfer window. The Portuguese mastermind secured the services of Hojbjerg for rather cheap and the free transfer of someone as experienced as Hart could only bode well for a club that is going through a financial turmoil due to coronavirus.

[All statistics have been taken from FB Ref]

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