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Liverpool Transfer News: Rafael Benitez Says Pepe Reina's Future Is at Liverpool

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
Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

Spanish stopper Pepe Reina appears to be on his way back to Liverpool after Rafael Benitez claimed that loan club Napoli could not afford his wages.

Nick Rostron-Pike of TalkSport reports that the former Anfield boss said the goalkeeper will return to his parent club in England and fight for his place with current No. 1 Simon Mignolet.

Benitez said, per Rostron-Pike:

Yes. Pepe has two years left on his contract at Liverpool. 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.

The move will surprise Liverpool fans who expected that they had seen the last of Reina after his move to Italy last summer.

The keeper has been linked with moves away to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, also reported by TalkSport, with Reina telling Cadena Ser he will wait to make a decision about his long-term future.

Reina said, per TalkSport:

“My future? I still have two years of contract with Liverpool, in the summer I will decide what to do. Atletico Madrid? They have a great goalkeeper like Courtois and I’m sure he will stay there.”

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Reina's agent Manuel Garcia Quilon confirmed he believed the goalkeeper would be making his way back to Anfield. He said to ESPN, per Richard Arrowsmith of the Mail Online: 

"It's 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."

Reina had a fine season between the sticks for Napoli last year and appears to have recaptured the form that had deserted him at Anfield.

The Spain international featured in 39 matches for the Naples club in Serie A and European competition, per WhoScored.com, even gaining a goalscoring assist to his name during the campaign.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 30:  Pepe Reina of Spain leaves the pitch prior to an international friendly match between Spain and Bolivia at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on May 30, 2014 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

But Reina returning to Liverpool would be a mistake for the player.

At 31 years old he still has years ahead in his career but the demands of the Premier League may be too much for him now. Mignolet is Liverpool's first choice and, even though his own form has been susceptible, Reina would struggle in the arena of English football today.

Also, the big wages that Reina is currently on could hinder Brendan Rodgers' future transfer plans, particularly if the player was to return to the club just to spend his life on the bench.

But with the Reds only having Brad Jones in reserve there is a train of thought that Reina might offer Mignolet a credible threat to his status as No. 1.

Despite this, Reina is suited to a move back to Spain and life in La Liga would be preferable for a shot-stopper of his capabilities. If Atletico do lose Courtois back to Chelsea, Reina would be the ideal replacement for him. 

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