BY SHIKHARR CHANDRA Follow @ShikharrC on twitter
The deal was imminent only the location was to be decided. Pepe Reina's constant flirting to become Victor Valdes's successor at Barcelona left the club with no option but to find a suitable replacement for their long serving goalkeeper. The deal did not go as per Reina's wishes as Valdes decided to see-off his contract with the Blaugrana but it seemed Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers had made up their mind regarding Reina's future.
The club's decision to sign Sunderland's number one Simon Mignolet for £9million meant that the Merseyside club now had two top class goalkeepers fighting for a starting berth. Even though a healthy competition brings out the best, it was clear that none of the two would have taken a spot on the bench too kindly with the World Cup just a year away.
One man's loss is another man's gain, in this case Rodgers' loss turned out to be Rafael Benitez's gain. The former Liverpool boss was quick to pounce on the unsettled situation of Reina. The Spaniard moved swiftly to complete the loan signing of the custodian after his side had failed in an attempt to lure Julio Cesar to Naples. Along with Reina, former goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero the man who moulded Reina into one of Liverpool's finest, joined Benitez as the 53-year old gets set to begin life at his club.
How quickly time passes.
One of the stalwarts under former managers Benitez and Kenny Dalglish and the second most experienced player after Steven Gerrard in the present squad, it is hard to believe that the 40 year old decided to trust a player with as little as two seasons of top flight experience over the Spaniard. However truth be told it has been Reina's decline most notably since 2010. As seen last season, in at least a couple of high pressure games such as the one against Manchester City, his errors cost Liverpool dearly.
|Have Liverpool made the right decision in letting Reina go?...|
So was Rodgers right in order to ship one of his most experienced players out?
There was a time when the La Masia graduate was one of the finest players in the Premier League and his 3 golden glove awards are a good enough indicator of his abilities. The 30 year old joined the league as only the third Spanish goalkeeper in the history of top flight English football and since then has been an ever present figure for the Reds for the past 8 seasons making close to 400 appearances for the club. His excellent shot stopping ability, calmness during penalty shootouts, one-on-one's and his aerial command made him one of the finest goalkeepers in the world.
However as Liverpool's form began detiorating towards the end of Benitez's reign, the club was under constant transition with Roy Hodgson and Dalglish at the helm. It clearly had an impact in Reina's performances with injuries taking a toll on him as well.
Rodgers' summer transfer activity has seen an influx of young players with the likes of Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. The new signings join Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho to name a few youngsters who have already settled in well at Liverpool with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe waiting for a chance.
The advantage of having such talented youngsters is the fact that they will be on relatively lower wages as compared to the more experienced ones and unlike Chelsea or Manchester City, Liverpool don't have the financial power to keep players with such high wages on the bench.
The main reason to let Reina go was the fact that the player was on £110,000 per week and keeping him on the bench wouldn't be financially prudent.
Reina fits the style of pass-and-move brand of football that Rodgers is trying to instil with the Spaniard being one of the best at distributing balls and initiating attacks from the back, a trait found in almost every La Masia graduate. However expecting the same from his new goalkeeper could be hard and a decision that could backfire for the Liverpool boss.
It's a decision that could go either way for Rodgers and Liverpool as one of the key leaders in the dressing room makes his way out. Another of those players who starred for the club over the last decade has moved to new pastures. The Rodgers' era has truly begun!
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