Rumors have been looming all week about Pepe Reina leaving for Paris Saint-Germain, leaving many wondering how he would look for Napoli against Atalanta on Sunday. Many fans were hoping to get reassured by what they saw — but if anything, his performance only raised more questions.
Especially during Napoli’s poor first half, Reina was noticeably restrained compared to his normal style of play in goal. He wasn’t pushing out of the six yard box nearly as much as we typically see from him, and most noticeable was how quiet he was. Most of the time, we hear a constant barrage of orders and directions from Reina for his defenders and even to the deeper midfielders at times, but against Atalanta he was curiously quiet, even only managing a fraction of his normal outrage after Atalanta scored.
Cameras were rarely on Reina during their storming comeback and win in the second half, but they were on him after the match as he headed back to the locker room — and what they saw does not have fans optimistic about his future with the club.
#Reina saluta il San Paolo??? #NapoliAtalanta pic.twitter.com/DfJbhe0BLW— Alessia Novelli (@Alessia_Nov) August 27, 2017
That waving exit is a departure from what Reina normally does, typically just doing the standard applause-to-the-fans walkoff like the other players around him. Also notably absent was the typical happy mugging from his teammates, who normally shower Reina with hugs, headpats, and other shows of affection as they head off the pitch. Some at the stadium also reported seeming him in tears after the match, a decidedly unusual display of emotion from Reina.
That’s only raised the speculation that Reina’s exit is imminent, with the end of the transfer window only days away and Paris Saint-Germain itching to get more transfer business done. Losing Reina with no obvious replacement lined up — Napoli still want Real Sociedad’s Geronimo Rulli, but no deal seems imminent there — it could spell massive trouble for Napoli’s season.