With Pepe Reina looking set to move to Barcelona in the summer, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will be in the market for a new number 1 at Anfield. The Catalan giants are ready to bring Reina to Spain after current ‘keeper Victor Valdes, rejected a new contract at the club. So with Valdes looking for a new challenge, should the Reds just swap Reina for the current Barca goalkeeper?
Valdes would come with a lot of experience. At 31-years-old, Valdes has won everything he can during Barcelona’s rise to become the best team in the world. With 5 La Liga titles and 3 Champions League winners’ medals, Valdes’ top football experience would be valuable to any club. He may not be able to get past Iker Casillas in the national team line-up, but Valdes has proved that on the biggest of stages, he can be a vital member to Barcelona’s star-studded team.
But with every foreign player brought over to play in the Premier League, there is a cloud of doubt as to whether they can handle the change in football. Liverpool know more than any club that a player who plays well in Europe can struggle when plying their trade in England. Fellow Spaniard Fernando Morientes was a key example for the Reds, who never lived up to the standards he set himself at Madrid or Monaco. Signing a player who has already established themselves carries less risk of a meltdown. So who could Rodgers sign who’s already in the league?
One option is Simon Mignolet. Playing for struggling Sunderland, the Black Cats could already be relegated if it wasn’t for their Belgian ‘keeper. With 11 clean sheets to his name this season, Mignolet has been a rare positive for Sunderland this season, playing in every Premier League match in their campaign. At just 25-years-old, Mignolet is in just his 3rd season with Sunderland, and has plenty of potential to be a top goalkeeper in England. Often overlooked because of his side’s league position, Mignolet could be attracted by a move to a top club, especially if Sunderland are relegated.
A more obvious choice would be to bid for Swansea’s goalkeeper Michel Vorm. After being cleared of any serious injury with his clash with Ben Davies, his own defender, Vorm looks set to see out the last two matches of the season. Managed by Brendan Rodgers when the Northern Irishman brought Swansea up to their Premier League, Vorm has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in England. With Rodgers’ transfer embargo on his former club lifted in the summer, the Liverpool boss may test Swansea’s ability to hold on to their key players.
The third option is Stoke City’s popular goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Like Mignolet, Begovic is 25-years-old and also playing for a team struggling in the Premier League. Both goalkeepers were unable to keep a clean sheet against each other on Monday, leaving the Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper with 12 clean sheets this season. Joining the club for just £3.5million, Begovic has worked hard to become one of the top goalkeepers in the country, attracting a flurry of interest in the January transfer window. With Stoke only 6 points above the drop zone, Begovic may well look for a bigger club next season to help him develop, with Anfield’s history and atmosphere a possible temptation.
There’s no doubting the quality of all 4 of the goalkeepers above. Valdes has much more experience, winners’ medals and a higher reputation, but Rodgers would be hoping he can maintain these high standards in a completely different environment. Vorm, Mignolet and Begovic have all adapted to the Premier League and proved their worth in the country, but would all cost considerably more than Valdes, especially if Barcelona are happy to do a straight swap for Reina. With a new goalkeeper not the only thing on Brendan Rodgers shopping list this summer, the money saved could be the clincher in deciding to pick Valdes over a Premier League goalkeeper.