Can Liverpool Afford to Have Pepe Reina as a Luxury Back-Up Option?

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

Spain's Pepe Reina speaks during a Confederations Cup news conference at Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

Pepe Reina's agent has explained how it is "very difficult for Pepe to remain at Napoli."

"From June 30, he will return to Liverpool because they want to maximise his sale, and Napoli are not willing to spend what is required," explained Manuel Garcia Quilon to ESPN.

The experienced Spaniard spent the whole of the 2013/14 season on loan to Rafa Benitez's Napoli and the move was expected to be made permanent this summer due to a reported £4.5 million release clause in Reina's contract, as per The Mirror.

However, that proposed move now appears unlikely according to Garcia Quilon, but Liverpool are still looking to cash in on the 31-year-old whose contract expires in two years.



Reina's reported difficulty in making his move to Napoli permanent will see suggestions that Liverpool should simply keep him at Anfield.

If #LFC are struggling to agree a fee for Pepe Reina why not just keep him? He is better than Mignolet

— Transfer Agent™ (@FootyGossipLFC) June 8, 2014

It's a nice idea, but one that is hugely flawed by any logic.

Of course, having Reina as Simon Mignolet's understudy would be perfect in a dream world (or on a game of Football Manager) but the real-world economics of such an idea make the reality impossible.

DAVE THOMPSON/Associated Press

How could any business justify paying an understudy higher wages than the person who they are back-up to?

Especially given that Liverpool have undergone a process whereby every player within the squad must justify their wages. Hence the sales of Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and more—squad players who were on higher wages than new signings who were part of the first XI.

This is something Brendan Rodgers explained when Reina went out on loan to Napoli last summer.  James Pearce of The Liverpool Echo wrote: "The Reds boss says the club couldn't justify paying Reina £110,000 per week in order to sit on the bench."

Liverpool cannot & will not keep Reina as a No 2 when he's on huge wages. They wont have him see out the final 2yrs of his contract as a sub

— Ref-Justice (@SGF96) June 7, 2014

Despite Rogers' desire to add another goalkeeper to his squad this summer, that man won't be Reina for those reasons outlined above, namely economic sense.

"We've only got two goalkeepers. We need another goalkeeper," Rodgers explained prior to the post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers last month, as per ESPNFC.

Swansea's Michel Vorm is the player who has been linked with a move to Anfield subsequently, especially following The Swans' purchase of Lukasz Fabianski recently. The latest info there is though is that Liverpool's interest has cooled, according to The Mirror. Quite possibly because The Reds aren't going to sign Reina's replacement before his sale is complete.



Quite clearly then, while Liverpool may wish to have Reina as Mignolet's back-up, they can't afford such a luxury and the Spaniard will be allowed to leave the club.

Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Other suitors for his signature reportedly include Atletico Madrid—the club his father played for and who were linked with a move frequently over the last year, such as in The Mirror last December.

With Reina's apparent release clause relatively low (£4.5 million) you would imagine that interest would be high for the player who has made 394 appearances for Liverpool. Seemingly though, it's those reported wages (£110,000 per week) which are proving the stumbling block.

Reina will again be understudy to Iker Casillas at the World Cup, the third World Cup Reina has been part of the squad but he's yet to make an appearance.

Will Reina be prepared to take a drop in wages in order to complete a move elsewhere, or will Liverpool be forced to pay part of his wages over the remaining two years of his contract? Something which The Reds were forced to do when they let Joe Cole join West Ham in January 2013, as per The Guardian.



Instances such as these are reasons why Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group are still, more than three years after their purchase of the club, paying for the mistakes made under the previous regime.

Similar to Pepe Reina's contract situation is Glen Johnson's—again on £110,000 per week according to The Liverpool Echo. Another deal agreed under the previous owners and management.

Two players who are past their prime, earning over £200,000 per week combined. That money, Liverpool will feel, can be better spent elsewhere.

While it's easy to suggest that Liverpool should simply keep Reina, the reality is they won't be because, unlike the previous owners, FSG are not prepared to risk the financial future of the football club.


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