Liverpool Can't Afford to Let Arsenal Strengthen with Pepe Reina Signing

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 29:  Pepe Reina of Spain faces the media during a press conference ahead of their international friendly match against Bolivia at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on May 29, 2014 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Pepe Reina has been a Liverpool player in name only for the past 12 months.

With their goalkeeper of eight years stationed over in Italy with Napoli, it has been easy for Reds fans to forget all about the Spaniard, and to assume that they’d never see him in action for their club again.

Suddenly though, the apparent failure of Napoli’s permanent move, at least according to Rafael Benitez as reported in the Liverpool Echo, has seen his future shrouded in doubt. We’re all transfixed with the World Cup at the moment, where Reina is a part of Spain’s squad, but for Liverpool fans this question will never be too far away: Just what happens to the goalkeeper now?

NORWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: A dejected Simon Mignolet of Liverpool sits on the pitch after conceding a second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on April 20, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo b
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Barcelona’s signing of the young German Marc-Andre ter Stegen has seemingly closed off Reina’s route back to a club he left for Villarreal 12 years ago, whilst despite some shaky displays surely Brendan Rodgers won’t dispense with the services of Simon Mignolet already, will he?

With the return to the Champions League on the horizon and the Belgian set for even greater scrutiny next season that latter option has to be explored, or rather it would have to be if there wasn’t a feeling that Reina had cut his ties with Liverpool already.

Upon leaving the club for Napoli last summer, Reina issued what he called a “goodbye letter” to the Reds supporters on his personal website, and it was about as far away from the club-approved “open” letters to fans that we often see when players move on these days.

Reina spoke of it being “not his decision to leave” and how Rodgers had agreed the move to Napoli “without telling me first.” It seemed as though bridges over the Mersey were being burned. Did he ever envisage himself having to return to the club?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Pepe Reina of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on February 3, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

He probably never will. The vast majority of the transfer window remains and with it come huge possibilities.

Maybe Napoli could come to an arrangement? Would Thibaut Courtois joining up with Chelsea see Atletico Madrid, the former club of Reina’s father, make a move? Maybe the water could pass under those burned bridges and see Reina return to Liverpool? The likes of Joe Cole and Andriy Voronin were sent away on loan only to return and play in the first team in recent years. We’ll leave talk for just how good they were for another day.

As you can see then, there really are a lot more questions than answers surrounding Reina’s Liverpool future, but the one thing that the Reds can’t do is allow him to move to Premier League rivals Arsenal, who are interested in him according to the Metro.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 17:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on in victory after the FA Cup with Budweiser Final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

They report that the Gunners are ready to table a £5 million offer for Reina in a bid to make him their new No. 1 goalkeeper, but just as they showed last summer during their refusal to let go of Luis Suarez, Liverpool can and should knock Arsene Wenger back.

The club don’t need the money, and crucially they don’t need to strengthen a side who will have eyes on both the Premier League and Champions League next season.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool is challenged by Bacary Sagna of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Gett
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Last summer’s steadfast decision to cling onto Suarez was met with derision by some, but it proved to be crucial as the Reds wildly exceeded expectations. Reina probably won’t end up playing for Liverpool in 2014/15—although stranger things have happened—but ensuring that he doesn’t end up at the Emirates Stadium should be given a similar level of importance.

Wojciech Szczesny had a good season for the Gunners in 2013/14, and indeed shared the Premier League’s Golden Glove award with Chelsea’s Petr Cech for the most amount of clean sheets.

Reina, however, is a three-time winner of that prize, and his extra authority and experience would undoubtedly improve an already pretty strong Arsenal defence.

With Liverpool needing to focus just as much attention on the teams which finished below them last season as they do to the one that finished above, making the Gunners better simply shouldn’t be on the agenda.

Where Reina ends up this summer remains to be seen, but if and when he finally stops being a Liverpool player, the Reds might regret it if they’ve let him become an Arsenal one.


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