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Mar 25, 2013

Hugo Lloris tipped for greatness

The man who helped turn Hugo Lloris from promising talent into France captain believes his one-time protégé will soon be recognised as one of the world's greatest goalkeepers.

• Blog: European dilemma

Shot-stopper of France's Euro 84-winnning side, Joel Bats, 56, has been goalkeeping coach at Lyon since 2004, working alongside France international Gregory Coupet at Stade de Gerland.

Bats also coached Bernard Lama at Paris Saint-Germain and closely followed the career of 1998 World Cup winner Fabien Barthez, but believes Lloris, 26, is the best goalkeeper France have produced yet.

"I see him going really high in the game. He is already, but I see him going still further. The generation of Buffon, Casillas, is going to start getting too old. He's the one who's going to inherit from those giants," Bats, who was Lloris' mentor from his arrival at OL from Nice in 2008 until last summer's departure for Tottenham Hotspur, told Le Parisien.

"He's better than me, that's for sure! Because everything happens much more quickly now. Hugo is the most talented goalkeeper with which I've worked.

"Bernard Lama had great potential too, but as well as that, Hugo has a thirst to win, to pick up trophies. In comparison to Fabien Barthez, Hugo is establishing himself in England, something Fabien didn't necessarily do. Hugo's got his whole future in front of him, and for a long time to come."

Since Barthez's up-and-down stint at Manchester United, English clubs have not coveted French goalkeepers in the same way as their outfield compatriots.

However, after seeing off competition from Brad Friedel for the No. 1 spot at White Hart Lane, Bats believes Lloris is restoring French goalkeepers' good name, and introducing a new genre to the art of Premier League goalkeeping.

Bats said: "He's bringing a little French savoir faire into English football. The English are not really used to coming out of their six-yard box to deal with deep balls. He's a goalkeeper who tries not to be dictated to, who tries to cause opponents problems, and who doesn't let them do things easily.

"He's aggressive as we've always tried to be. I didn't think it would take him as long to establish himself at Tottenham. He needed to learn to be patient. He had the impression that he wasn't working enough compared to what he did at Lyon. Now he's in a rhythm which suits him better."

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