The news this week that Pepe Reina may be on the verge of ending his Anfield love affair will come as quite a shock for most in the game. The three time Premier League Golden Glove winner and Liverpool Player Of The Year 2009/2010 has been a central figure and commanding presence during all that has been good about Liverpool since his arrival in July 2005.
However, the recent admission by fellow Catalan, Victor Valdez, that he will not be extending his Barcelona contract beyond 2014 has led to a veritable whirlwind of conjecture and speculation regarding his potential successor: not least from Reina’s own father. The former Barcelona and Athletico man has been touting the services of his son, and highlighting the possibility of a Nou Camp return to practically anyone that would listen, including local radio stations and pressmen.
Having signed a six year contract in 2010, Liverpool would definitely find themselves in a solid position which which to open up negotiations for the potential transfer. Reina has always professed his love for the Anfield club and surely it would be a wrench for him to leave, especially with all his family settled on Merseyside. However, the call from Barcelona for any proud Catalan is perhaps just to good an opportunity to turn down: Just ask Cesc Fabregas!
So, if Reina does decide to vacate his position between the sticks at Anfield, the question will arise of who can replace him. Here are four potential successors.
The Bosnian has been doing a fantastic job at Stoke since his arrival from Portsmouth in 2010. His central role behind one of the meanest defences in the Premier League has seen his stock rise considerably, to the extent that both Manchester clubs are rumoured to be interested in signing him.
Playing second fiddle to England’s number one at Manchester City, or operating as part of a revolving trio at Old Trafford, might not be as tempting though, as the opportunity to become Liverpool’s full time number one. I think he would represent a great buy for the Anfield club. The only potential stumbling block could be Tony Pullis’ reluctance to let him go, or at least for anything vaguely resembling a fair price.
It would be a strange reversal of fortune that would see the 31yr old Catalan swapping the relatively ‘success guaranteed’ existence of the Nou Camp, for the almost omnipresent transitional stage that seems to have wrapped the Anfield club warmly within its blanket. However, the player himself has cited a willingness to take on a new challenge as his main reason for wishing to vacate the comfort of Barcelona.
He already has more silver than Buckingham Palace and so perhaps the opportunity to help transform Liverpool into title contenders would represent enough of a challenge to see the talented stopper arrive on Merseyside.
If some reports are to be believed then Liverpool are already lining up a bid for the Mexican International. Having started his career with Club America, he is now plying his trade with French Ligue 1 outfit Ajaccio. His performances last year led to him being named as the club’s Player Of The Year, but with widespread interest throughout the game, one would feel that Liverpool will have to act quick on this one: with a £5million figure probably enough to secure his services.
Certainly the most unlikely of the four, but definitely not out of the question by any stretch of the imagination. With the Spaniard now developing a fondness for taking a spin on the wheel of calamity, with an alarming frequency, it is surely only a matter of time before Fergie loses patience.
The Red Devils have already been linked with several high profile goalkeepers during this window: some of whom are mentioned above.
If they do prove to be successful in enticing a truly world class keeper to Old Trafford, then perhaps De Gea will find himself surplus to requirement, suggesting that a move to Anfield would offer the chance to rebuild his career without the ‘rabbit in the headlight’ pressure that his natural game appears to have succumb to during his time at Old Trafford.