Napoli’s Rafael Benítez surprised Liverpool made Pepe Reina available

Napoli manager Rafael Benítez admits he was surprised Liverpool made goalkeeper Pepe Reina available for a season-long loan

pepe reina
Pepe Reina joined Liverpool from Villarreal in 2005 Photo: Standard Chartered

Rafael Benítez has admitted he was surprised that Liverpool made Pepe Reina available on a season-long loan.

The Napoli manager secured Reina’s services for the 2013/14 campaign earlier this week after Brendan Rodgers signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland earlier this summer.

The former Reds boss was responsible for bringing the Spain international to Anfield in a £6m deal from La Liga outfit Villarreal in 2005.

But Benítez revealed he was initially chasing Queens Park Rangers shot stopper Júlio Cesar before becoming aware of Reina’s availability and swooping for the 30-year-old.

“Obviously I know the situation and I was surprised,” Benítez said.

“We were trying to sign Julio Cesar and it was a surprise for us when Pepe Reina was available.

“For us it is a big boost and it is really important because he is a great player so we are really pleased.

“I would say he has a lot of respect for the club and he was surprised by the decision and because nobody had told him.

“He has a great relationship with the fans and the club so I don’t think he has any problem with them.”

Benítez believes Reina, who is set to be re-united with his former Liverpool goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero, is still world-class despite the Spaniard’s inconsistent form in recent seasons.

“100 per cent – he is still a fantastic keeper,” he added.

“We knew he had a long contract so it would have been impossible and we were not even thinking about him.

“We were talking about Cesar and then we realised that he was available and that was perfect.”

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