Amid all the talk of transfers at Liverpool this summer it seems that it has been forgotten that one of the best goalkeepers in European football is on his way to the red half of Merseyside. But quite bizarrely it appears that this man has little future at the club, and will indeed be shipped out at a discounted price.
I am of course talking about Pepe Reina, a stopper who for so long was the bedrock of the Kop’s XI and one of Rafa Benitez’s – who oversaw, arguably, the club’s most successful period in recent history – players of choice.
After just one season under Brendan Rodgers, Reina was shipped out on loan to Napoli, whom he was expected to join permanently this summer, yet a disagreement over a fee has scuppered the switch, and now Reina has confessed that he’s set to return to Anfield.
So with Liverpool having conceded the most goals in the top five last term – which ultimately cost them a first league title in 24 years – it makes sense for the World Cup winner to come back, right?
Well the answer look likely to be a resounding no from the Liverpool boss, yet I for one cannot work out why.
Reina was shifted out in 2013 to accommodate Simon Mignolet’s arrival from Sunderland, with the Belgian ‘keeper having been a standout performer for the Black Cats. An opening day penalty save against Stoke looked likely to set a wonderful tone for his Anfield career, but the 26-year-old’s performances slowly deteriorated as the season went on.
Let’s make it clear, Mignolet is not a poor goalie. Far from it. His shot-stopping is among the best in English football and he was after all a part of a team that narrowly missed out on the title to Manchester City – one of the richest sporting outfits on the planet.
However, is he good enough to help Liverpool bridge the gap to get themselves over the line as champions next season? I’m not convinced.
But Reina could well be.
The vastly experience glovesman has a World Cup title, two European Championships an FA Cup and a League Cup medal to his name. Okay he was a squad man for Spain in much of their recent success, but in being a part of La Roja’s winning set-up he knows a thing or two about winning. Mignolet on the other hand has just a Belgian second division medal… read into that what you will.
Reina also possesses years of playing at the very pinnacle of European football, a serious amount of Champions League action and the respect of many Liverpool fans. Again, Mignolet is a source of concern for many in the Kop and is yet to hear the anthem of the continent’s premier club competition on a midweek evening.
I mean no disrespect to Mignolet, who is a good ‘keeper. He performed well for Liverpool last term and did justify a move to a bigger club. My only reservation is that he’s not good enough to help his side take the next step, with mistakes and flappy performances – at home to Aston Villa was a prime example – too frequent.
Reina is a steadier pair of hands, and that is what the Merseyside club are in need of if they are to make the fairy-tale a reality in 2014/15.
Another chance? Rodgers should at least consider it.