Jose Reina hasn’t lived up to expectations in recent years at Anfield, but he’s the best option Liverpool have at the position. Without a clear opportunity to acquire a better goalkeeper this summer, the Reds have to make retaining him a top priority.
The 30-year-old Spaniard has a contract with Liverpool that runs through 2016, but much has been made of the imminent departure of Victor Valdes at Barcelona. According to Simon Rice of The Independent, Reina has been linked to Barca as his potential replacement, quoting remarks the keeper’s father made in reference to a potential switch:
I am absolutely convinced that 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.
Miguel Reina’s remarks don’t indicate a move is imminent, but they do open the door to some possibilities. The Spaniard has reportedly drawn interest from several clubs, including Barca and Arsenal, who may use the summer transfer window to strengthen the position (per Andy Hunter of The Guardian).
At 30, Reina is by no means washed up. He hasn’t been in top form in recent years (due in part to a new style under Brendan Rodgers) but the three-time Golden Glove winner deserves to play out the remainder of his contract at Anfield with a chance to reclaim the form that earned him his last illustrious award in 2007-08.
If Rodgers gets his way, that’s exactly what will happen (as quoted by Rice):
He's never been unsettled and our relationship is very strong. I have given him and a few of the senior boys real responsibility, and I think they have enjoyed that. I see him as someone who is going to be here. He is 30 years of age and is someone who looks after his body. The sports science team this year have worked really well with him. I think he's been outstanding and had great focus and hopefully that will continue for us.
Rodgers also went on to address Miguel Reina’s comments and the possible link to Barca:
I think a lot of the stuff this year has been based on speculation with (Victor) Valdes going, or possibly going, there have been links they (Barcelona) will be in for another keeper. His dad has said some things and whatever. Pepe and I speak a lot. He's a good man, and I've got real respect for him as a player and as a human being. He understands everything we are trying to do here and is a great voice in the little debriefing meetings we have with the group and with the defenders and other goalkeepers. He's brilliant.
Should Liverpool look to replace Reina for next season?
Rodgers’ personal opinions aside, Reina still has enough talent to earn his keep at Anfield going forward. Injuries and inconsistency slowed him in the beginning of this season, but he appears to have settled in following a slow start. With nine Premier League clean sheets to his name this season, Reina may not have to worry much about being replaced in the near future.
The summer transfer period is always a pivotal time for clubs in need of improvement, but Liverpool can’t worry about making a change in the net. The Reds have other needs to address, and keeping their veteran goalkeeper for future seasons is a good way to establish continuity and focus on other needs going forward.