A deal for Simon Mignolet appears imminent for Liverpool, who've dealt with rumors linking Pepe Reina away from the club for most of the past season. Younger and less expensive, Mignolet is a player that makes sense and has both quality and promise, while Reina has struggled to regain the form he'd had under Rafa Benitez in his first few seasons with the club. All signs (or at least the ones I was paying attention to) pointed to an exit for Reina with Mignolet arriving, but today Brendan Rodgers has quashed that theory, underlining his intent to have both at the club to compete for the number one spot.
Speaking with TalkSport earlier in the day, Rodgers touched on a number of topics--including the Luis Suarez situation, which he feels the club are in "complete control" of--while discussing the future of Liverpool's goalkeeping situation:
"Pepe Reina and I went out for a meal a couple of months before the end of the season and I told him exactly what we were going to do, which was to provide real competition in that area. He was fully aware of my intention of the course of the last few months. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to Pepe.
"Pepe is a fantastic goalkeeper but Simon Mignolet is a player that has done really well. He's also part of an emerging Belgium squad that has come into a golden era. He's very much a part of that. When you work with Pepe he's a great man. A very committed man to the club and he's an outstanding goalkeeper."
That jibes with the recent interviews that Reina's given while away with the Spanish national team, as he's asserted on multiple occasions that he plans on seeing out his Liverpool contract. It's slightly surprising, though, for many of the reasons already discussed in previous posts about Simon Mignolet, which don't necessarily need to be rehashed again here.
Having true competition for a starting spot is something Pepe Reina just hasn't had to deal with since arriving; Jerzy Dudek was on the way out in his first season, and there hasn't been any backup that's capable of threatening a regular place on the team sheet. Mignolet will certainly provide that, along with a solid foundation for the club moving forward given his age. Entering the season with neither man as the concrete number one creates an environment that will ideally challenge and better both, and ultimately benefit the club.
Of course, Reina could be unveiled at Barcelona or PSG or Napoli on July 1 and this will all be just silly talk, but at least for now, it's an interesting and potentially very positive development.
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