Liverpool have been involved in plenty of transfer window rumours already this month, but one of the biggest might be that which potentially doesn't involve a move until the end of the season—that of goalkeeper Pepe Reina to Barcelona.
While the Reds have been linked with several goalkeepers over the past six weeks or so, including the likes of Jack Butland and Michel Vorm, rumours surrounding Reina's possible departure have centred more around Premier League rivals Arsenal (via Goal.com).
Indeed there have been significantly more stories on incoming goalkeepers than of Reina leaving at all.
Most recently, though, Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes' announcement that he would not renew his current deal with the Catalan club has led to a spate of rumours surrounding Liverpool's No. 1 returning to the place where he started his career (per Telegraph).
I am absolutely convinced Pepe would be more than delighted to return to his Barcelona, where they made him into an upstanding man from the time he arrived at the age of 12 until he left. I say it publicly, I would be delighted to see Pepe back at Barca, of course I would. What father would not like to see his son at Barca? He has already been there but to return would be extraordinary.
Pepe has shown sufficient proof of the calibre of goalkeeper he is and right now, and sorry for the lack of modesty, he would be up to the task and the ideal keeper for FC Barcelona without a shadow of a doubt.
Right now, Valdes has 18 months left on his contract, meaning he could still be in place next season. In that case it would be unlikely that Barcelona would pursue any new stopper, including Reina.
Liverpool's goalkeeper has had an up-and-down campaign, balancing poor form with injury at the start of the season. A recent improved run has coincided with better results for the team and the Reds have kept six clean sheets in the past two months.
Reina is now injured again, however, and unlikely to play much part in the first team for the next few weeks.
A former Barcelona player himself, Reina might well be longing for the chance to return to the Nou Camp. In truth though, what his father is quoted as saying is as true for Reina as it is for most players on the planet—he would like to see his son playing for Barcelona.
Of course, having been brought up in the methods and expectations of La Masia, Reina would be the archetypal fit for the first team of Barça. His footwork and organisation has always been good, and even if his shot-stopping has not been at its best for some time, his concentration levels rarely drop.
That, in a team who maintain as much of the ball as Barcelona, is of paramount importance.
It must be noted that of all the teams who could come in for Reina, it would likely be hardest for him to turn down Barcelona, along with Atletico Madrid.
Should Reina be Barcelona's choice to replace Victor Valdes?
Liverpool are in rebuild mode and there is every chance that Brendan Rodgers will want to include a new goalkeeper in his buying plans during the summer—even if he didn't originally intend for that signing to replace Reina immediately.
Should Valdes move on though—and he has been linked with Bayern Munich and Manchester United already (via the Times)—then in Reina, Barcelona seem to have a replacement ready-made and probably willing to join.
Where Liverpool go after that remains to be seen, but the hope for now must be that the Reds' stopper regains long-term fitness and something like his best form, regardless of whether that is to help Liverpool back into the top four or to maximise his transfer market value.