Did Pepe Reina really want Liverpool stay?

Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina has revealed his disappointment at being ‘pushed out’ at Liverpool where he has departed for a loan move to Napoli.

The 30-year-old stopper criticized the club where he’s been the number one choice between the sticks for almost a decade as he praised former Reds manager Rafael Benitez with whom he will be reunited with at Napoli next term.

"If I have one regret, it is the way that I am leaving," wrote Reina.

"It is only natural that I would be disappointed that the Liverpool management agreed to loan me to Napoli without telling me first. I thought that I deserved better than that even though I understand that difficult decisions have to be taken in football.”

It would appear from his statement that he feels a little rejected by the club where he has spent so many years of his career but does he have a right to feel aggrieved with his employers given the context of his switch?

Reina was effectively ‘moved on’ by Liverpool after what seemed to be a move on the part of the player to engineer a switch to Barcelona where, a few months ago, it seemed inevitable that Victor Valdes was intending to leave.

Reina is the Spanish national side’s third choice keeper behind Real Madrid and Spain captain Iker Casillas and then Valdes with young David De Gea emerging behind Reina.

When Barcelona were facing up to the prospect of losing their number one Valdes, Reina must have seen the window of opportunity opening in his direction – his manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers effectively admitted as much and would appear that his ‘flirting’ with the idea of a move to the Spanish champions is what has seen him ushered out of the back door at Anfield.

Rodgers is no slow coach and he must have seen Barcelona coming a mile off and figured that, given the option, Reina would most likely engineer a move for himself back to his native Spain.

However, the spanner in the works was, of course, when Valdes performed a 180-degree spin on his decision – he reversed his intention to leave this summer and instead opted to stay at the Camp Nou till the end of his contract in 2014.

By that point, Liverpool must have already had the wheels in motion on the deal to bring Simon Mignolet in from Sunderland. The Belgian signed for the Reds on June 25th before the summer transfer window had even officially opened which would suggest Liverpool had been working on the deal behind the scenes prior to that.

By June 23rd Valdes had committed his future (one more year) to Barcelona but Reina was still being ‘chased’ as a long-term replacement in case Valdes left at the end of his contract, which expires in less than a year.

With Mignolet coming in and Reina left hanging on the phone, Liverpool probably though it best to keep him on the books until Valdes’ contract actually expires next year but send him off elsewhere to be first choice to ensure his valuation doesn’t diminish in the meantime.

I don’t believe for one second Pepe Reina genuinely wanted to stay at Liverpool. I believe he genuinely wanted to move to Barcelona, not Napoli but, unfortunately for the Spaniard, he’s the loser in this love triangle – for now, at least.

image: © Eric The Fish (2013)

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