By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Monday, February 4, 2013
Hugo Lloris says Tottenham must qualify for the Champions League every season if they are to challenge the Premier League’s elite and “grow as a club”.
Lloris has played in the Champions League in each of the past four seasons with Lyon, qualifying for the knock-out stages every time and reaching the semi-finals in 2010.
The 26-year-old Frenchman has been involved in the Europa League instead this season with his new club Tottenham, who face his former employers Lyon in the last 32 next week.
However, the France captain is anxious to return to Europe’s top table next season – and he believes it is imperative for Spurs’ long-term ambitions that they do so.
“All my team-mates were frustrated last season because they did well, they finished fourth, but with Chelsea’s win [in the Champions League final] we couldn’t play this competition this year - but we have the ambition to build something with this club,” said Lloris. “We have good players, we have a good team and we want to grow as a club.
“Tottenham need Champions League football, but it’s not about playing just one year in the Champions League, it’s about playing there for many years, every year.
“We play this sport to play at the highest level and the Champions League is the best competition for a player. Of course, economically, it’s an important thing for the club so maybe the club need it to keep all the best players.
“I think we are in a good place and that the Premier League is very difficult. There are a lot of great clubs and great teams so we have to be consistent.”
Tottenham took another step towards the Champions League yesterday with a victory at West Brom, giving Spurs a three-point cushion over fifth-placed Everton - and they are now just one point behind Chelsea following the Blues’ defeat at Newcastle.
“I think it was a good opportunity for us to gain three points on Chelsea after what they did [on Saturday] and it’s a good thing we did, but Arsenal are putting pressure on us so it was a testing game and we did well,” said Lloris.
“Our objective is to stay in the top four but if we can gain one place [and finish third] it would be a good thing for us.
“The season is long and I think we will have great games against Chelsea and Arsenal, but also next week against Newcastle so it’s difficult to say anything about this now - but we have the ambition to stay in the top four and we have to do it.”
While Gareth Bale stole the show at The Hawthorns yesterday, the impressive Lloris also played a key role to record his ninth clean sheet for Tottenham – and he is determined to keep improving in his first season in the Premier League.
“I have to learn a lot of things but I have a competitive spirit and I want to be on the pitch, to give all my best for my team,” he said. “The most important thing is that all the players have the same mentality. If we play well individually the team will be better.”
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