We discuss the merits of the reported loan deal taking Pepe Reina to Napoli and why reuniting him with Rafa Benitez and keeper coach Xavi Valero makes sense for all parties involved in the deal.
The charade of keeping both Reina and Mignolet to compete for the top spot looks set to come to an end. The loan deal to take Reina to Napoli is reported to be on the brink of completion.
This has elicited a variety of sharp responses from some quarters of our fan base. Some mourn the loss of a legend, while some are unhappy with it being a loan deal and would have preferred it be permanent, while yet some accuse the FSG of penny pinching and failing to show big club ambitions.
And then there are some who are unhappy with Brendan Rodgers for “lying” to them about the situation, as if it would have been anything short of gross mismanagement had he proclaimed the end of Reina’s Liverpool career while unveiling Mignolet.
We as fans should take a more pragmatic approach to football realise that the people running the club share our ambitions and are trying to take the best possible option. May I suggest those with this particular gripe should look up the word naivety.
Positives all around
We, Liverpool, stand to gain a lot from this deal if one thinks about it. Rarely have two top keepers actively competed for the number one spot without one of them losing form and place to the other. Keeping two keepers happy is also a tough ask. Take Tottenham for example, after the initial month, Hugo Lloris was clearly the number one keeper relegating Brad Friedel to appearances in the Europa league, this when Friedel clearly understood at the start of the season that his playing time was going to be limited. Of course, Liverpool don’t even have the ‘luxury’ of the Europa League this season.
Once you lose your spot, as a keeper it becomes difficult to reclaim your place. This is in-part due to the managers preferring to keep their backlines consistent. Defences tend to build understanding and solidity with more game time. They become more accustomed to each other and build a relationship when the backline is stable.
Managers change keepers only if the first choice keeper is going through an especially bad patch of form, or gets injured. And keepers are seldom injured. So we were likely to see one of them keeping their place in the team for longer durations and the playing time will definitely be skewed. This would leave one of them definite unhappy and probably out of form.
This deal makes sense on a financial level too. By getting one of our biggest earners off our wage bill, we are saving up to five million a year. This move does not mean that we lack either the ability or the resources to but only that we are being frugal with or resources and use them with care. We are not forced to reduce our wage bill but choose to do so simply because it is prudent. It is not FFP that is forcing our hand but us volunteering to limit our spending.
We are not only getting him of the wage book but are able to offer him some much needed game time in the combatively easier league of Serie A. If Reina is ever to up his game to the pre-2009 levels what better place to do so than under the tutelage of Xavi Valero and the watchful eyes of Rafa Benitez. Napoli plays a three man defence and it will serve as additional protection against crosses, one of Reina’s weaknesses.
The reason for the deal being a loan deal could be two factors. One could be that we already have an agreement in place with Barcelona regarding the sale of Reina. So we needed to get off our books for a season and hence loaned him.
The other, far more unlikely, is that there were no other prospective buyer for our keeper at the price we wanted. Either way if Reina does well in this loan spell, which he should, then we will be in a better position to bargain for a better price with an in form Reina than one severely lacking match fitness.
Regardless of how this transfer saga ends, Reina will always be remembered fondly by the Kop as one of the very best in our storied history. His services to the club have indeed been more than commendable.