Rafael Benitez has claimed Napoli will not pursue a move for Pepe Reina during the summer transfer window as the Liverpool goalkeeper’s wages are beyond what the Italian club are prepared to pay in order to confirm his acquisition.
Reina spent last season on loan in Napoli, excelling during his time there, and Benitez would naturally like to be able to secure a permanent deal for his former Liverpool charge. However, Benitez will be unable to achieve his ambition, and back to Liverpool he will go.
“Yes. Pepe has two years left on his contract at Liverpool,” Benitez told talkSPORT when asked if Reina would return to Anfield.
“He has to go back and he’ll stay there. We can’t afford Pepe’s wages.
“The Premier League is a very big league and, in Serie A, we don’t pay big wages like in England. He will have to fight for his position at Liverpool.”
This reluctance from Napoli to pursue Reina is a blow indeed for Benitez but, of course, more of a significant one for the player himself. The Spaniard’s salary has proved a particular problem for Liverpool, too, which resulted in the decision to farm him out on loan, after Simon Mignolet had been recruited from Sunderland to replace him as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.
Reina returns to Liverpool in a state of limbo, knowing he is unwanted by Brendan Rodgers and that his future lies away from Merseyside. The 31-year-old established himself among the very elite players in his position during his halcyon Liverpool days and, of course, desires regular first-team football somewhere.
But the issue remains that clubs that need a goalkeeper of Reina’s repute and on his significant salary remain at a premium indeed. There is Atletico Madrid, though, with the Spanish champions one of the few Champions League clubs actively in pursuit of a new No.1, with Thibaut Courtois set to return to Chelsea.
Atletico, however, are hardly renowned for a willingness or ability to pay significant sums to their players, and that is unlikely to change despite their recent successes. And, if Atletico were to break their pay ceiling for anyone, it would surely be a replacement for Diego Costa rather than a new goalkeeper.
If reports are to be believed regarding the future of Petr Cech as a Chelsea player, then this summer could be a rather unique one, with two of the top ‘keepers from the last decade available for transfer. Any club would be lucky to have them, but whether any club is willing to afford them is a different matter entirely.