Why Liverpool Should Consider Holding onto Pepe Reina

Scott Burns@@scottb86Featured ColumnistJune 25, 2014

Liverpool's goalkeeper Pepe Reina, is seen reacting during their English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
SCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press

Pepe Reina's future at Liverpool has been cast in doubt ever since the summer of 2013 when fellow goalkeeper Simon Mignolet arrived at the club from Sunderland.

The popular Spaniard, who had been the Reds' first-choice goalkeeper for eight seasons, saw a place in the team that was once guaranteed threatened, and once it became clear that Mignolet was to be Brendan Rodgers' number one, Reina opted to join Napoli—and former Reds boss Rafa Benitez—on loan.

Despite a successful season in Italy, Benitez has opted against making the move permanent, confirming that Reina will instead return to Anfield where he has two years of his contract remaining.


Healthy Competition

While Rodgers has in recent times claimed that the Reds cannot justify keeping Reina at Anfield as back-up due to the Spaniard's significantly high wages, having two top-drawer goalkeepers in the ranks could benefit Liverpool heading into the 2014/15 season.

Not since the the early Benitez era and the days of Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland have the Reds boasted two goalkeepers who could provide significant competition for each other.

The likes of Charles Itandje, Diego Cavalieri and Brad Jones have all been brought in as obvious back-up to the likes of Reina and Mignolet, meaning both players' place in the starting line-up has been more or less a dead cert.

Vorm: Linked with a move to Anfield
Vorm: Linked with a move to AnfieldSCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press/Associated Press

Competition for places is always healthy. Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo claims that Rodgers is interested in bringing in Swansea City goalkeeper Michel Vorm to provide competition for Mignolet, making a permanent exit for Reina ever the more likely.

If indeed Swansea are demanding the £5 million fee reported for the Dutch international, then the Reds could do far worse than holding on to Reina for one more season at least.


Financial Sense

The Spanish international will be 32 shortly after the Premier League campaign gets under way and would be unlikely to attract a huge transfer fee either this summer or next, when he would have just one year remaining on his contract.

Indeed, Reina may well be one of the Reds' top earners and despite Rodgers' previous claim that the former Barcelona man's wages cannot justify a place on the bench, £5 million for Vorm too does not quite make financial sense.

Reina is a popular figure around Anfield and a return would more than likely be greeted positively by both players and fans alike. 

Mignolet: No room for complacency
Mignolet: No room for complacencyMichael Regan/Getty Images

While it is likely the Reds' No. 25 would have to settle for a place on the bench during the opening weeks of the new season, Mignolet would be well aware that any complacency on his behalf would be seized upon by not only a wonderful goalkeeper but a wonderful servant to Liverpool Football Club.


Reina or Mignolet

Despite a fantastic start to a Reds career which began with a penalty save and three consecutive clean sheets, Mignolet's form wavered as the season progressed with former favourite Bruce Grobbelaar even labelling the Belgian as the Reds' "weak link," as reported by Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail.

While the general consensus is that Mignolet's first season with the Reds was a success, there are without doubt aspects of his game that the Belgian international must improve if he is to be considered a Liverpool great, ironically in the mould of Reina.

The former Sunderland man's shot-stopping ability is up there with the very best, but judging and handling crosses and ability with the ball at his feet do not appear to Mignolet's strong points.

A mistake during the Reds' 3-2 win at Norwich in April could have proved costly as the Reds—at the time—appeared to be homing in on their first Premier League title.

Reina: From zero to hero in 2006 cup final
Reina: From zero to hero in 2006 cup finalMATT DUNHAM/Associated Press

Reina has himself been no stranger to high-profile mistakes during his time at Anfield. An inexplicable error during a 3-0 defeat to Everton in 2006 came just months after a double mistake during the 2006 FA Cup final victory over West Ham, a game in which the Spaniard ultimately turned out to be the hero, saving three Hammers penalties in a decisive shoot-out.

Many argue that the sign of a good goalkeeper is one that can make a great save when called upon after spending large periods of a match out of the action and Mignolet—this season—and Reina—in the past—have proven that this is an attribute possessed by both.

While Mignolet settled into life on Merseyside with apparent ease, Reina can too boast of a successful 2013/14 season in Italy. The on-loan goalkeeper crowned his one and only season in Naples with a Coppa Italia winners' medal.

While Reina can also boast of reaching 100 clean sheets quicker than any other goalkeeper in Liverpool history, Mignolet is also in the record books as being the only Reds goalkeeper to have saved a penalty on his debut for the club.

While Reina admits his future remains up in the air, what doesn't is that if called upon, the Spaniard is more than capable of providing both cover and competition for his Belgian rival.


Who do you think should be the Reds' first-choice goalkeeper? Should Reina start the season at Anfield? Also, should the Reds hang onto him as back-up or should he move on? As always, leave your comments and opinions below.













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