If there’s one bit of transfer gossip flying around at the moment that seems to make all round absolute sense it’s of Arsenal’s desire to lure Pepe Reina away from the bosom of his beloved Liverpool. Look at the facts: Arsenal have been yearning for the defence stabilising qualities an experienced keeper brings since chief aggravator of strikers Jens Lehman headed home and Pepe’s loss of form seems to be the kind that can only be rectified by pastures new. Pepe needs the move and Arsene can't pass up the opportunity to sign him. It’s plainer to see than a black polar bear in the middle of an arctic winter.
Arsenal’s goalkeeping predicament of injury and incompetence has meant that it’s become immaterial whether Mannone, Fabianski, Szczesny or the goalkeeping foetus that is Damian Martinez is playing, the same problems persist. The erratic performances and the lack of a domineering presence is one of the key bricks missing in Steve Bould’s attempt to build a successful foundation. Despite Arsenal’s defensive record improving since his promotion, Arsenal can’t wait forever for their keepers to mature and attain the serenity that Reina would bring to a team.
Not only that, but Reina's supreme touch, quality striking technique and ability to set up lightening quick counter attacks makes him what I would consider to be the ideal Wenger keeper. The funny thing is, Wenger has never really had a keeper who is as comfortable with ball at his feet as Reina, which has surprised me because I'd have thought it would be utmost in his requirements in a keeper. You can just see Reina collecting a cross and side-volling the ball into the path of Walcott, taking opposition players out of the game and making best use of his pace.
Arsene Wenger’s admiration is no secret after Arsenal legend Bob Wilson revealed his interest in Reina last year and if he’s thinking of opening the coffers to bring in Reina, it’d be a masterstroke. His recent injury aside, he looks a shadow of himself and needs something to ignite him again. There was a time when a half fit Reina would have been put in the team ahead of Brad Jones every day of the week but the fact Brendan Rodgers hasn’t tells you everything. On form and fully fit, I don’t think there’s anyone to touch Reina, unless there’s a beach ball involved. Reina hasn’t suddenly become a poor goalkeeper, it’s purely mental. Complacency has crept into his game and the fact Liverpool aren't able to compete with the top four seems to have had an effect on him too.
He's been there for seven years now and sometimes a player can get comfortable and cosy at a club and the edge goes from his game. They need the challenge and the added adrenalin that makes sure they are on top of their game. Reina’s situation at Liverpool at the moment is the football equivalent of sitting in a lazyboy: it’s comfortable and he’s happy but he’s just wasting his days watching daytime TV as Liverpool flap about trying to perfect this convoluted keep-ball.
Before I get Liverpool fans on my back thinking I'm saying the club isn't big enough or good enough to keep hold of Reina then I'm not. All I am saying is that I can't see him getting back to his best whilst he's still there. It's not as if this is a problem that's appeared overnight so it'd be foolish to think he'll be back on top form as soon as he's back 100% fit. There's more to it than just a loss of form and a half-motivated Reina is of no use to a team already struggling to find it's feet under Rodgers. As talented as he is and as much as he’s loved, fans must see that Pepe is a shadow of his former exuberant self and as Sting once sang “If you love someone, set them free”. It doesn't have to be an acrimonious split either. The relationship has reached it's natural end and it's time for both Reina and Liverpool to move on and find new partners.