An injury to a regular Tottenham Hotspur starter has prompted them to be linked with a potential replacement who is actually retired.
There is a perception that Antonio Conte prefers to bring in veteran players, preferring experience to youth. For example, the head coach refused to associate himself with the summer signing of Djed Spence. In contrast, he was a major influence in bringing Ivan Perisic to the club.
Now, although the January transfer window has closed, Tottenham have suffered a significant blow that may prompt them to sign an unattached player.
Starting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with a knee ligament injury, as confirmed on Wednesday. It leaves them with just Fraser Forster as recognised cover.
Alfie Whiteman and Brandon Austin are both available as backups too. They are both 24 years old, but neither has much senior experience. Indeed, they have both made the same number of first-team appearances for Tottenham: none.
Therefore, the Daily Mirror has revealed that Tottenham are looking at free agents they could sign to plug the gap until Lloris returns.
And the report names Ben Foster as a prime target on Tottenham’s radar, even though he retired a few months after his departure from Watford at the end of last season.
The former England international will turn 40 in April, so hung up his gloves officially in September. At the time, though, he was still of interest to Premier League clubs, since Newcastle tried to recruit him.
Now, Tottenham might be trying to change his mind about retirement. If they can agree terms with him over a short-term stay, they would then need special dispensation to add him to their Premier League squad.
It is likely that former England colleague Forster will remain Conte’s go-to man in Lloris’ absence. But Foster could help keep the ex-Southampton man on his toes too.
Tottenham need goalkeeping evolution
In the bigger picture, this is perhaps a reminder of how Tottenham need to evolve their goalkeeping department. Even when fit, Lloris has been under some scrutiny for his performances recently.
Since he is in his mid-30s as well, Spurs need to create a succession plan. That is something they will likely address in the summer.
But there is only so much they can do now with the window being closed. And since there aren’t too many familiar goalkeepers available on a free at this moment in time, someone like Foster might be Tottenham’s only solution.
Whether they can convince him to get back in training is another matter. Foster has immersed himself in the world of content creating on YouTube. Thus, he has plenty of ways to keep occupied post-retirement.
It is a good endorsement of his abilities, though, that two clubs in the top half of the Premier League table have considered him worthy of bringing in over the past six months.
Foster represented the likes of Manchester United, Birmingham City and West Brom during his career. Only time will tell if it actually is over or not.