With Napoli and Rafa Benitez reportedly pushing for a deal to bring Pepe Reina to Italy, the long goodbye for a much-loved goalkeeper--which had started in some shape or form since Roy Hodgson arrived--appears to be reaching its conclusion. Further developments today follow that trend, most notably the drafting of young goalkeeper Danny Ward into the preseason traveling squad after he'd been left behind on Merseyside. No conclusions just yet, but most are taking this as one of the final acts before Pepe Reina is no longer a Liverpool player.
After featuring over the final twenty minutes in the 4-0 win over Preston North End, Ward had missed out on the squad to travel through Asia and Australia, with Simon Mignolet, Brad Jones, and Reina as the three-man goalkeeping contingent. Just a little bit ago that all changed, though, with Ward announcing his plan to join up with the Liverpool squad in Melbourne:
in the airport ready to head off to dubai then onto melbourne!! #preseason ⚽✈— Danny Ward (@dan_ward52) July 19, 2013
**HT to Jake for the sleuthing**
First, this doesn't absolutely have to mean that Reina's exit is on the horizon. This could be due to Dani Pacheco withdrawing from the squad and Ward being the next name in line, or we could be looking at an unannounced injury for Jones or Mignolet that might limit their availability after tomorrow's meeting with the Indonesian XI in Jakarta. These are both realistic and possible scenarios.
That hasn't kept speculation from going into overdrive, though, and it's just as possible that the writing is on the wall for Pepe Reina at last. Earlier in the day Ian Ayre commented that Liverpool's transfer business wouldn't be limited by the fact that they're so far away from home, and while most took it optimistically--namely that more names were on the way in and that Bernard and Toby Alderweireld are waiting at Melwood, pen in hand--it could very mean that business in the opposite direction is taking place as well.
Whatever the case, we're likely to find out soon enough, as the squad's trip to Australia is just a few days away.