Is Pepe Reina’s reign at Liverpool coming to an end?
Barcelona have renewed their interest in Liverpool goal keeper Pepe Reina, as they seek a long-term- replacement for goal-keeper Victor Valdes, who looks all set to leave the Catalan club at the end of next season.
Liverpool have signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland for a reported fee of £9 million last month that has put a question mark over Reina’s future at the club.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers had insisted that the Belgium international wasn’t bought to replace the Spaniard, rather to add competition for places in the side.
Barcelona are thought to be interested in re-signing their former player, with English tabloid Daily Star claiming the Spaniard looks set to hold talks with the Catalan giants in coming days.
Tito Vilanova has stressed the need of signing an established keeper to replace Valdes when his contract expires next season, and considers Reina as an ideal choice to fill the void.
The 30-year-old joined Liverpool from La Liga outfit Villarreal in 2005-06 and has made over 250 appearances for the Reds since then. He made an instant impact, winning Premier League golden glove awards for three consecutive seasons.
However, post 2008-09, Reina’s form has dropped remarkably as he failed to maintain the level of consistency for which he was known for, while his blunders have cost Liverpool crucial points in recent years.
Probably, that’s why Rodgers didn’t want to take the risk this time around. Financially, the club is lot better placed than what they were under previous owners. What was once a luxury for Liverpool to afford two quality goal keepers at the same time has been made possible now.
From Reina’s point of view, he must grab this opportunity with both hands. He needs regular games under his belt to cement his place in the Spanish national team that will fly to Brazil for the World Cup next year. Also, he holds an emotional attachment with Barcelona, the club where he spent all his childhood, which could tempt him to re-think about his future.
However, the situation is now completely under the control of Rodgers. If Reina stays at the club, he will have no problems in executing his plans, if he leaves, then also, the club won’t suffer, as they have a more-than-handy replacement in place.
On selling Reina, the club can re-invest the money in the squad and replenish the areas in the side that needs strengthening.
Keeping two world-class keepers who have chances of representing their nation in the 2014 World Cup seem a long shot for Liverpool. Mignolet would have definitely signed for the Reds with a tacit agreement of getting a place in the playing eleven.
Thibaut Courtois, his competitor for the starting berth in the Red Devil colours is already making waves in Madrid. It would, therefore, defy conventional wisdom for Reina to stay on at Liverpool.