With Pepe Reina coming out to say “I will stay at Liverpool until the end of the season” Premiership rivals have been put on alert that this could mean he’ll be available in the summer. By adding that he doesn’t want to return to Spain, the most likely potential destinations appear to be the Arsenal or the red side of Manchester. But with both having big questions over their current keepers can they wait till summer to find a new no 1.
Arsenal’s goalkeeping problems are widely reported at it seems Arsene Wenger is the only one to supposedly have faith in current shot stopper Lukas Fabianski. Current no 1 Manuel Almunia is sidelined with an elbow injury, but even when fit and available he hardly instils confidence in the Emirates faithful. Performances like the first leg against Barcelona, when he almost single-handedly kept a terrific Barca attack at bay are too rare for a goalkeeper at a top European club. Far more common are handling or positional errors that sew doubt across the entire backline of Arsenal.
The need for a top goalkeeper at Arsenal is clear and Reina has certainly proved he is that during his five year spell at Liverpool. But this need is no new phenomenon with the gunners, whose fans lament the fact that this problem position has not been addressed sooner. Some fans even see it as the main obstacle that has prevented them from winning a major trophy since 2005. Given Wenger’s traditional reluctance to delve into the January transfer window and how long he has already gone without purchasing a goalkeeper, it is unlikely to see him rushing off to sign someone this January. He and Arsenal could very well hold out until Reina is available in the summer. However the reported release cause of £20 million would no doubt put Wenger off. Not being one to believe if spending lavishly, to assemble expensive teams there is great doubt Wenger would want to make a goalkeeper Arsenal’s biggest transfer. Added to this Wenger still does not seem to put as much focus on the goalkeeping position as other managers do or as perhaps he should, being more than happy to persist with evidently less than world class goalkeepers over the years. The final problem with a potential move by Reina to Arsenal is he has stated he wants to win trophies and it would be this that motivates any move by the player. Can Arsenal, who have gone longer than Liverpool without winning a major trophy, genuinely promise him this? Certainly they are in a far better position than Liverpool and should have no problems qualifying for the Champions League
Reina’s other potential Premier League suitors, Manchester United, would be looking for a replacement for the seemingly evergreen Edwin Van der Sar, who has been rumoured to be finally considering retirement in May. Again just like with Wenger, I see no reason why Ferguson would rush into the market in January. Given that he has Van der Sar at his disposal for at least the rest of the season as well as Kuszczak to step in when needed. It would seem Manchester United are also able to wait until the summer before addressing any goalkeeping issues. They are also more likely to be willing to spend the reported £20 million on Reina’s recruitment especially considering the reassurances they recently gave Rooney about investing in the squad.
What does the future hold for Pepe Reina and should both Arsenal and Manchester United sit tight and wait to see whether the Spaniard does in fact look to leave Anfield? Or should the Premier League duo look to resolve their goalkeeping void at the earliest opportunity in January?