What next for Pepe Reina?

At one time adjudged amongst the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, Pepe Reina faces significant uncertainty over his club future.

The Spaniard has proven over the course of his career that on his day he has the ability to make breathtaking stops, but has been replaced at Liverpool by summer signing Simon Mignolet.

As such his days at the Anfield club look numbered, with Brendan Rodgers admitting this week that he did not see the goalkeeper returning to Merseyside at the end of the season once his loan switch at Napoli concludes.

With the sheer quality of the goalkeepers available to Vicente del Bosque for the Spain national team, Reina’s chances of making his country’s World Cup squad hang in the balance also.

At 31 years old Reina has a number of years left in the tank and certainly has what it takes to play at big clubs.

A product of Barcelona’s renowned La Masia youth academy, the stopper made 30 La Liga appearances for his boyhood club over the space of two years before being sold to Villarreal.

Over 100 outings for the Estadio El Madrigal side convinced Rafa Benítez to bring the stopper to England, where during the space of eight years Reina was Liverpool’s number one.

Pepe ReinaDespite lacking the physical presence of taller and more staunch opposite numbers, Reina has made up for this with outstanding athleticism and a solid reading of the game.

His form was generally consistently good for the Reds, and it was only last season that apparent mistakes started to creep into Reina’s game. The club’s reliance on the Spaniard was questioned by Rodgers, who opted for Mignolet as the man to seemingly wear the gloves for the foreseeable future.

This season at Napoli a reunion with Benítez has seen Reina get back to somewhere near his best and play his part in the Stadio San Paolo side’s Serie A title charge.

With the door seemingly shut at Liverpool, a permanent move to Naples could well be on the cards. That said, Napoli invested in Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael Cabral in the summer, with the 23-year-old adjudged as someone who could potentially grow into a player capable of filling the void for his national team.

With Víctor Valdés opting to pursue a new challenge in his career, Barcelona are also in the market for a new goalkeeper, with Reina mentioned as a potential replacement.

A return to Catalunya, where it all began for Reina, would certainly make for an idyllic next step in the accomplished goalkeeper’s career, but is by no means guaranteed to happen.

The Camp Nou outfit are believed to be keeping an eye on Marc-André ter Stegen, amongst others, and signing a younger goalkeeper that can command the number one berth at the club for a long period may well be more appealing.

At international level Reina has 31 caps to his name, but even in his pomp was largely second choice to Iker Casillas.

With the Real Madrid stopper joined by the likes of Valdés and David de Gea as options for La Roja, it will take something of significance for Reina to force his way to become the Iberian nation first choice.

Undoubtedly an able and competent goalkeeper, at 31 the next move for Reina is a critical one. With a return to Liverpool unlikely there will be no shortage of suitors for the stopper, who has a number of good years left in him.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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