Pepe Reina hails Barca as “best team in the world” but committed to Liverpool
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has snubbed transfer speculation suggesting he is eyeing a return to his former club Barcelona, where he would replace Victor Valdes this summer. The 30-year-old Spaniard has described Barcelona as the “best club in the world” after Victor Valdes announced he was all set to move away from his childhood club.
Last month, Victor Valdes finally concluded his transfer saga by informing that he was going leave Barcelona after his current contract expires, which is due to happen in 2014. In the aftermath of such statements from Victor Valdes, the Catalan giants immediately labeled Pepe Reina as their top transfer target.
Pepe Reina would become a second generation Barcelona player if he moves to Camp Nou, since his father was also a goalkeeper between 1966 and 1973 for the Spanish powerhouse. Pepe Reina started his football career at Barcelona after graduating from their Football Academy, but in 2002 he moved to Villareal.
Rafael Benitez brought Pepe Reina to Liverpool in 2005 and ever since he has been the first choice between the sticks. Liverpool are in search of a strong backup goalkeeper, which has sparked rumors about Pepe Reina’s exit from Anfield.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers maintains that Pepe Reina is still the man Reds want and that the Spaniard is determined to see out his contract until it ends in 2016. Pepe Reina, who is in Doha for Spain’s friendly against Uruguay, admits he was shocked to learn Victor Valdes had decided to move on from Barcelona.
“I was surprised because Victor is with the best team in the world,” Pepe Reina said. “When I sign a contract, I fulfill it and I have signed with Liverpool until 2016. Barcelona is the best club in the world. I know what it means because I trained there as a player and as a person.”
Pepe Reina also dismissed speculation that his form is a mere shadow of his former greatness.
“Some people say I’ve had a bad season, but honestly I think I only had three poor matches,” Pepe Reina continued. “It's been a strange season for me because I've missed lots of games with injury. This has been the most unsettled season, both personally and as a team, since I joined the club.
“Liverpool are going through a transitional period, with new ideas and a different playing philosophy. That takes time. People have to be patient. It’s normal for us to be erratic. Right now we can’t compete with the big guns.
“They have a big edge over us at the moment, both financially and squad-wise. There’s a reason they are so many points ahead of us, and it’s not because of one or two better players.”