Pepe Reina is reported to be craving a return to his “home” – Barcelona – once Víctor Valdés’ contract expires at the end of this season. It leaves Liverpool in a bit of a sticky situation after signing the superb Simon Mignolet earlier in the summer. It’s nonsensical for the club to have two top goalkeepers competing for the number one spot. With it being a World Cup year, Reina and Mignolet will have little desire to rotate the job between them but with Barcelona as the Spaniard’s sole option for a permanent switch, the move to Napoli makes sense for both sides. Reina will be reunited with the man who brought him to Anfield – Rafael Benítez – and his experience and character could help ease the Spaniard into his new role. But as one of Liverpool’s highest earners, Reina will command wages in the region of £100,000-a-week. With the club looking to sign more performance-based contracts, Reina’s wages to sit on the bench for a season makes little financial sense. A loan move is certainly not the best situation for Liverpool but it might well be the best course of action given the present situation.
Liverpool supporters may worry that a loan move could eat away another year on Reina’s three-year contract and thus lessen his potential sell on value. However, in terms of the next summer’s likely transfer to Barcelona, the loan move could work to cement a sizeable figure for the Spanish number two. It is almost certain that he would be playing second fiddle to Mignolet. But if he makes the move to Italy, regular performances with chances to impress could work to hold Reina’s market value. Napoli will be able to mount a serious challenge for the Serie A title given their impressive performances last season and will be competing in the Champions League. So, for Reina, appearances at the highest level will allow Liverpool to ask for a bigger fee, especially with two years still remaining on his current deal. It will be next summer when Liverpool must make a definitive decision on the Spaniard.
The 30-year-old has been a record-breaking goalkeeper during his time at Liverpool, racking up over 400 appearances for the Anfield outfit. Reina endured a turbulent 2012/13 campaign as the Catalan keeper make a number of high-profile errors and injury allowed Brad Jones to impress Brendan Rodgers. It is clear that Reina needs a new direction in his career having spent much of his footballing life at Liverpool. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to end this way but with his form waning, it made sense for Liverpool to search for his replacement. At Napoli, Reina will be able to link up with former Liverpool goalkeeping coach Xavier Valero. Since Valero’s departure from the club following Benítez’s exit, Reina has repeatedly called for his mentor to return to Anfield. The coach could prove pivotal in helping to reignite Reina’s career and this will certainly be a huge attraction towards a move to Italy.
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