Liverpool: Why Goalkeeper Pepe Reina Loan Move to Napoli Makes Sense for All

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 19:   Pepe Reina of Liverpool celebrates the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers at Anfield on May 19, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Liverpool have yet to make many major summer signings for their first XI this season, but they might be about to witness the exit of one of their longest-serving players.

Pepe Reina is reported by Ben Smith of BBC Sport as being close to a loan move to Napoli in Italy, for the entirety of the 2013-14 season.

The Reds signed Simon Mignolet earlier in the summer and it appears as though the increased competition for goalkeeper means that Reina will now head out. It might be a move which isn't popular with all Reds supporters, but it might just make the most sense for both parties.

It appears to be the worst-kept secret in football that Pepe Reina intends to be a Barcelona player once again, sooner or later. He was linked with a move back to Spain, and his first club, early in the summer—as per Mirror Football—but that rumour soon dissipated when Victor Valdes confirmed his intentions to see out his contract for one more year, as confirmed by Sky Sports.

Even so, when Valdes departs a year from now, it is widely assumed amongst the fans that Reina will be headed back to the Camp Nou.

This present season, therefore, it looked as though Reina might have to be content with a place on the substitutes' bench, with new arrival Mignolet looking a safe bet to start the season as the No. 1.

While a loan move is not the best outcome for Liverpool by any stretch of the imagination, it might well be the best course of action for the present situation.

Reina is on an estimated wage of around £100,000 or £120,000 per week, one of the "highest earners" at the club according to the original BBC report. That means that with Napoli taking over his wages for this season, Liverpool will save around £5 million in wages for a second-choice goalkeeper over the course of the campaign.

For his part, Reina would be reunited with former manager Rafael Benitez and, more importantly, former Liverpool goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero, who Reina himself has requested be brought back to Anfield previously.

He would also be playing in a team who challenged for the Serie A title last season, have made significant investment in the playing staff this summer and who will be competing in the Champions League.

In terms of next summer's likely transfer, Reina will hold his market value far better if he is playing regularly and performing well for a good side, in prominent competitions, rather than sitting on the bench for much of the campaign at Liverpool.

The Spanish goalkeeper will still have two years left on his present contract next summer, meaning Liverpool will still be in a strong position to command a good fee for his signature. At that point, it really would be a case of letting him go permanently, or else risk losing out on several million thereafter, while also paying his wages.

Reina is a record-breaking goalkeeper for Liverpool and has played just five shy of 400 competitive games for the club. It wasn't supposed to end this way—but the World Cup winner, who has won both domestic cups in England and played in a Champions League final, seems to need a new direction in his career.

With Simon Mignolet, Liverpool have already chosen theirs.