What's Going On With Pepe Reina?

Stuart Franklin

Will Pepe Reina stay? Will he go somewhere else? Should he even stay? What's even going on?

With the end of the season looming and the end of Pepe Reina's loan from Liverpool with it, there's a lot of confusion surrounding his status. The 31 year old goalkeeper, who was dislodged from Merseyside after Liverpool bought Simon Mignolet, has little chance of returning to the English side for any longer than it takes for them to dump him off on another club.

The problem is that what the next step for Reina will be is currently unclear at best. Liverpool bought Mignolet in no small part because Reina had spent all summer flirting with Barcelona, his hometown club and where he spent his academy days. He pretty thoroughly torched his bridge to Anfield before he even crossed it on his way to Italy, and given all the times he's talked about how glad he is not to be with Liverpool, how he never wants to go back to Liverpool, and how Brendan Rodgers is a meanie poopoo head, whatever half-charred timbers remained on that bridge are pretty well disintegrated by now.

Despite Barcelona's pending acquisition of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (which supposedly will still go through despite Barca's shiny new transfer ban), there have still been persistent rumors that the Catalan side remain interested in bringing Reina home. In what capacity is a little unclear as Ter Stegen would be the clear starter based on talent, and despite Reina's decline in recent years he's still probably too good to be a backup.

So now with the clock winding down, Napoli are scrambling to figure out what to do and execute their plan. With Reina apparently having forced the insertion of a €5 million release clause in to his contract before agreeing to his loan deal, any club in need of a goalkeeper that can afford his wages will be lining up to secure his services.  There's been conflicting reports in the last few days, with some claiming that Reina's camp have rejected a contract offer from Napoli, and others saying that no contract has even been offered yet. The consistent factor between both reports, however, is that the wages that Napoli would be willing to offer Reina will be a significant step down from what he makes now.

Before Rafael Cabral's ACL injury, it would have been easy to say "just move on" as the Brazilian was playing exceptionally well whenever given the chance. Just in the 45 minutes of the Swansea match he played before getting hurt, he made three jaw-dropping saves, and grades out better than Reina in several key areas. But with a long layoff ahead and the uncertain nature of ACL injuries in mind, having a quality veteran like Reina around makes an awful lot of sense. Otherwise you're left with Mariano Andujar in goal, and that's not exactly a feel-good idea for a Champions League campaign.

If Napoli and Reina can come to amenable terms, bringing him back definitely is a good idea for next season. There's a lot of questions as to how good a fit he'd be for the long term, but those are questions that don't necessarily have to be answered right at this moment. Right now, though we need to figure out if Reina even wants to stay in Naples, and that seems to be an answer that's more than a little up in the air right now.

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