Pledging future the final piece in Liverpool’s resurgent jigsaw?

Liverpool Goalkeeper Pepe reinaLiverpool fans seem to be waking each and every morning with a new reason to be optimistic as the gloom recedes over Anfield, and today, Pepe Reina has announced his intentions to remain in goal for the Reds following a series of revelations over the past year that he would be leaving, not least to join rivals, Manchester United.

“I am happy, calm and comfortable here,” Reina told the Spanish radio station, Cadena Cope, before continuing: “I am looking towards the future which I reckon will bring a lot of happiness and hopefully the new project with the new American owners [Fenway Sports Group] will be a convincing one.” The Spainish international had previously suggested that he was considering a career away from Liverpool, like national compatriots Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres, if the club failed to meet his ambitions. But the 28-year-old, who is believed to have a £20m release clause in his current five-year contract, now appears to see a future for himself at a club that has been revitalized under interim manager, Kenny Dalglish.

“Obviously [Rafael] Benítez brought me here but that doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy with [Kenny] Dalglish, quite the opposite. I think he’s the ideal man for Liverpool at this moment,” Reina added. But was has really influenced the player’s sudden change of heart? He isn’t the only high-profile Premier League star to publicly announce his intention to leave his current club this season, and both Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez reneged on their initial avowals to a successful extent, so perhaps Reina believes his recent reversal will enhance his status at Britain’s most successful club.

He is already considered one of Liverpool’s most significant assets, and has been since his arrival in 2005. He boasts a catalogue of fine performances during his 308 appearances for the club, and cemented his place as a fans’ favourite due to his commanding presence, excellent reflexes and regular penalty saves. What’s more, Reina’s dependability has allowed the three managers he has worked under at Anfield to allow reserve goalkeepers of sub-Premier League standard to occupy the bench. Diego Cavalieri, Scott Carson, Charles Itandje and Brad Jones, amongst others, have all sat patiently in the Liverpool dug-out over the past six years conscious of the unfathomable possibility of dethroning the Spaniard.

This worrying lack of alternatives would have concerned Dalglish up until the point of Reina’s u-turn, and maybe the goalkeeper’s ambition to stay is the final piece in Liverpool’s resurgent jigsaw. Fortunately, the club were able to immediately buffer the departure of Torres with the arrivals of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, and have found in Raul Miereles a decent enough replacement for Javier Mascherano, who left for Barcelona not long after the beginning of the season. But had Reina supported his original plan to leave, Liverpool would have been left with a colossal hole to fill in between the posts, in a market where Manchester United and Arsenal are also searching for goalkeeping solutions.

It is worth mentioning that Reina at no point suggested his desire to leave was motivated by anything other than Liverpool’s perceived lack of ambition, a concern he was more than justified to express. However, it seems like Kenny Dalglish’s influence has convinced Reina of Liverpool’s future objectives seeing as under the Scotsman’s leadership, the team has emerged from the bottom half of the table to be challenging for European qualification. His commitment to Liverpool in now unquestionable and will prove to be one of the most important features in the club’s rehabilitation, behind the signing of Dalglish’s full-time contract.

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