Napoli need a new goalkeeper, with Rafael Cabral wildly out of favor and Mariano Andujar just not good enough in goal to give Napoli the level of performance they need. Given the reports flying around for the last month and a half, it looks a near certainty that the choice will be a familiar face: Pepe Reina, lately of German giants Bayern Munich.
Reina was the man between the sticks two years ago for Napoli, and after spending a wildly unsuccessful season with Bayern Munich as the backup to one Manuel Neuer -- you know, the best goalkeeper in the world -- Reina is ready and eager to actually play again. "I don’t feel cheated," Reina said in a recent interview. "I know what I was getting into. [My] goal is to play more."
Play more he can in Naples, where there's a void in goal. Rafael fell out of favor after a few shaky performances and was never given a second chance despite Andujar consistently stinking up the place. That gives Reina a pretty clear path to being the every-match starter for Maurizio Sarri's side, and getting him to Napoli shouldn't be too difficult.
It's been rumored for a couple of weeks now that the basics of a deal are set up and agreed, both with Reina on a contract and with Bayern on his transfer fee, believed to be around €4 million. The hangup right now seems to be all on Napoli's end, which is understandable as they just hired a new manager in Sarri and are still in the process of finalizing a deal with a new sporting director in Cristiano Giuntoli. Once they get Giuntoli in and settled, a deal could progress very quickly.
There's one other potential spanner in the works, though: Luigi Sepe. The young local goalkeeper just had a fantastic campaign with Empoli on loan working under the same man now managing Napoli. With Napoli not facing the pressures of a Champions League campaign, the club could choose to see what they have in Sepe and make him the main man in goal, perhaps with Rafael as his backup.
That could especially make sense is light of one nagging question regarding Reina: just how good will he actually be? The first half of his season with Napoli went well, but the second half was too often shaky at best and he was coming off the heels of two seasons with Liverpool that frequently slipped between "just OK" and "disastrous." Now almost 33 and after a season of basically not playing at all, is he really going to be the quality star Napoli fans think he's going to be?
There's only one way to find out, and it looks like that once the dust settles, Napoli fans will have a chance to see where the truth lies.