Jose Manuel 'Pepe' Reina; the player termed asin Spain by Rafa Benitez in 2005 after signing him. the best goalkeeper
Reina after his arrival has gone from strength to strength. A three-time winner of the Golden Glove award, and Liverpool's player of the season in 2009-10, Reina has well gone on to demonstrate the abilities that Benitez had proclaimed long before.
The last season has been a mixed one for Liverpool's No.25, though. He started the season, shaken and poor in confidence. He got himself into many troubles due to his decisions. But over the course of the campaign, Reina seemed to get his confidence back and had a brilliant second half of season.
However, the arrival of Simon Mignolet from Sunderland has put Reina's first choice claim for keeper in serious doubt.
Mignolet had a decent season himself in the past years. He kept 11 clean sheets and had close to 72 per cent of the shots on target saved, as compared to 67 per cent by Reina. Reina even had the advantage of experienced defenders like Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger ahead of him, but still came short on many occasions.
Brendan Rodgers kept assuring that the arrival of another goalkeeper is just for competition within the squad, but everyone knew it was not to be. Reina himself has expressed his desire to go back to his native land and play in Barcelona a few times in the past year. But, with Vlades opting to stay for another year, there was less chance that Barcelona would swoop in for Reina this summer.
Now Reina has a serious decision to make. Should he fight it out with Mignolet in a team struggling to get back into the Champions League, or go to a team that has someone he knows well and is fighting for top honors. The logical decision seems easy. The later seems the best choice.
At Napoli, Reina has a manager who knows him well during his stint at Anfield, and also goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero. Reina has repeatedly told how Valero has been a huge influence on his game and how he helped the players. It was clearly visible that after Hodgson took over the reign at Anfield, Reina's form dipped to a certain extent. This coincided with the departure of Valero too.
If Reina moves to Naples, then he gets to fight out in a different kind of competition with the Italian strikers and gets to be involved at the highest level of competition. But it also helps, Liverpool too to a certain extent.
The wage difference between Reina and Mignolet can be better used in some other position. Keeping a goalkeeper on high wages on the bench seems a foolish idea. Again for Reina, this is not just an opportunity to get back to his best level, but also to wait another year and see whether he can go back to his roots at Barcelona.
If Valdes does leave at the end of next season, then Reina could well be their first choice unless they go for a younger goalkeeper.
All in all, this is the best suited deal for all parties. Though many Liverpool fans will be sad to see Reina leave, they can be assured that in Mignolet, they now have a keeper who can be as good as he was.
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