Brendan Rodgers has explained how Pepe Reina’s departure from Liverpool came about, with the Spaniard set to complete a loan move to Napoli.
Speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Rodgers explained:
“From last season I was led to believe that we were going to get an offer for Pepe that would probably see him leave the club.”
“On the football side, we have to protect the team, and at that stage we started our search for another goalkeeper.
“That found us Simon Mignolet, who is top class – one of the top young European goalkeepers.
“As events transpired, that move [for Reina] didn’t happen and it left us with two very good goalkeepers. Both would have been fighting for the No.1 position.”
That club was obviously Barcelona. But, when Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes decided to remain at the Camp Nou for another season, their move for Reina did not materialise, thus leaving Liverpool with both Reina and new signing Mignolet.
“An opportunity arose for Pepe and it was one we felt as a football club was best for him to take.
“As a senior goalkeeper, he needs to be playing. It’s a very important year for him with the World Cup next year. It wouldn’t have served any purpose, both for the club and him personally, if he’d been the one missing out.
“It’s decided he will go to Napoli and we’ve got two very good goalkeepers still at the football club.”
Liverpool also have goalkeeper Brad Jones, who signed a new long-term deal last December, on their books while Reina has three years to run on his current contract.
“We’ll review it after the loan finishes.”
Reina’s departure is one that makes sense for all parties involved. Liverpool and Rodgers were being pro-active by signing Mignolet ahead of what seemed an inevitable move for Reina.
By loaning Reina to Napoli, Liverpool have saved a huge amount of wages (reportedly up to £6m over the season) and Reina’s value will not depreciate from not playing. The odds are that Barcelona will then sign Pepe next summer when Valdes leaves.
Therefore Pepe has likely played his last game for the club, but leaves with a number of records to his name; most clean sheets in first 50 league games, in first 100 league games, in first 200 league games most in first 250 league games, 3 Golden Gloves, 11 successive clean sheets, most European games (84) by a LFC keeper.
Reina kept a clean sheet in 44.92% of all his games. Only Ray Clemence of the keepers that had 40 or more shut outs had a better ratio.
(Stats via the excellent Ged Rea)