RUMOURS are rumbling ever louder that Liverpool could be looking for a new ‘keeper in January and lingering murmurs continue to suggest that Arsenal would be happy to prize away our no.25, as revealed in the Daily Mail last month.
So is it time to cash in on our custodian and see a new goalkeeping era begin at Anfield?
I have previously voiced my opinion that investing in a goalkeeper this January would be a wise move for LFC.
However, whether Reina should be allowed to leave is another matter.
The goals conceded column has been too high for Liverpool this season and a previously formidable defence that used to have more clean sheets than a launderette has become porous. Goals will win matches but blanks for the opposition can help to put a run together that can build confidence and momentum.
Reina has been comfortably amongst the league’s elite goalkeepers over the years with few offering competition for the mantle of the most dependable guardian in England. His feline like reactions have seen him save certain goals making an already fearsome back line even more stubborn and his distribution has been the most creative in the league by far.
However, Reina has had a shaky season this time out. His start to the campaign was a concern with errors contributing to dropped points as well as undermining the transition to a new system. Injury took Pepe out of the firing line and Jones performed admirably as a deputy.
Since that time, Reina’s performances have improved. Following a huge weight loss he has looked closer to the original McCoy, though why he allowed himself to get quite so out of shape in the off season in the first place is something to think about.
There are a couple of reasons as to why Reina would be a good candidate to offload. Firstly, he is one of the only players we have that has a good resale value. Secondly, he is a high earner at Anfield after renewing his contract on a 6 year deal in April 2010. However, another important factor is that motivation to battle with Liverpool may prove elusive for the Spaniard.
Pepe has given a great deal to Liverpool football club but Liverpool are back at the drawing board at this moment in time. Reina will have to consider whether he has the appetite to fight to restore Liverpool to the top of English and European football. At 30 years of age there is the potential for Reina to still be playing top flight football for another decade but equally he may only see himself playing for a handful more years.
So, the candidates for the no.1 spot at L4 have been offered by the forever rotating rumour mill. Both Begavic and Vorm have had mentions but the persistent name that crops up is Jack Butland. Birmingham’s own Peter Pannu revealed that Butland was available to all comers in an interview with the Birmingham Mail and last week The Independent suggested that talks had already taken place between Liverpool and Birmingham over a move.
While I think this would be a helpful addition to the squad, I would not like to see this prospect be a replacement for Reina right now. Reina has been a world class ‘keeper and he could continue to be so for Liverpool. Placing so much responsibility on a 19 year old could prove too much. Take David De Gea at Man Utd a young man who had more experience than Butland before moving to Manchester. He has had his difficulties in making the transition and the microscope on the biggest teams can be intense. My fear is that a young goalkeeper can take a real confidence beating if they don’t settle straight away and a few mistakes cost points early on.
Taking such a bold decision is risky and if Butland has been identified as an essential component to Liverpool’s future, it could be that Liverpool’s hand is forced given Birmingham’s plight and the interest from other clubs in the precocious talent. However, even if this is the case the preference has to be for Reina to be retained at least in the short-term.
Pepe does need a challenge and genuine competition for his place could reignite him. This could see Reina’s price tag drift slightly higher and put us in a stronger position if we are to sell him in the future.
Rodgers has dismissed any suggestion that our Spanish motivator is up for sale and but for an exceptional replacement, this would seem an appropriate call.