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Jesus Loves Pepe Reina

It's the most infuriating will he/won't he since the last one and it's dragging its irritating heels across the newly polished floor of the last few months. Despite all assertions from the player and the club, it would appear that the world wants Pepe Reina to move to Barcelona.


Sometimes, things gather about themselves a blanket of sad inevitability.

No matter what efforts are expended, it seems as though there is a crushing burden of fate that is driving an outcome contrary to the wished-for. Couples make empty promises and spiral haplessly around each other on the down-cycle of a marriage. Life-long friends, despite promises to retain their connection, grow distant and drift apart and loyal soldiers, who have endured the bleakest battles, abandon their comrades for some fresh hell just as peace was threatening to break out in their lives.

So, apparently, it is with Pepe Reina and Liverpool Football Club. Only recently, Noel documented the latest round of interviews with the Spanish custodian as he reiterated his satisfaction with Liverpool, both professionally and from a family perspective. He declared himself "satisfied" and "comfortable", neither of which is an example the type of effusive vocabulary needy and insecure fans would prefer, but he also claimed to feel "appreciated" at Anfield.

When one adds into the mix a pinch of standard footballer bet-hedging about the unpredictability of the future and Reina's expression of pleasure at the "flattering" interest of "a club like Barca," one has a situation that is as clear or as nebulous as one's own bias allows. Latortillablanca, of this parish, has oft-stated his confidence about Reina's continuing presence at Liverpool Football Club in the future and most of us want to row right in behind him but the speculation has reached a level of insistence that usually means there is something afoot - something about protesting too much, perhaps.

Latest to add his tuppence worth to the saga is Jesus Angoy, former Barcelona goalkeeper and NFL Europe place-kicker for the same city's Dragons. Angoy made a total of nine appearances in five seasons for the Catalan aristocrats and is the husband of Barca legend Johan Cryuff's daughter, so his opinion is not as random and discountable as it may initially appear. Speaking to La Xarxa Radio he opined that Reina would be a perfect fit at the Camp Nou.

"Reina has enough quality for playing at Barcelona," he ventured. "He is ready because he has already played for Barcelona, he has the profile they are looking for and he has tremendous quality. Barcelona will miss Valdes and they need to be astute if they are to find a goalkeeper as good as Valdes."

Liverpool fans, despite their grumbling at the start of this season, will need no reminder from a former Denver Broncos trialist about Pepe Reina's "tremendous quality" and the void his personality and leadership alone would leave, were he to succumb to Barca's fluttering eyelashes, would be very significant, especially in the wake of the retirement of the Bootle Baresi. For Reina is a leader, even in a squad of strong personalities -- witness his role as cheerleader-in-chief for the Spanish national squad, should you doubt the man's forceful ebullience of character.

As surely as the incessant whispering about our current custodian continues unabated, and we really should not be gullible enough to doubt a strategic campaign by Barca, the counter-story linking Liverpool with Stoke's excellent twenty five year old Bosnian, Asmir Begovic, gathers pace, with even The Liverpool Echo mentioning it in its rumour section.

Perhaps then, we must accept the reality that a relationship has run its course; that the pressures of attraction to another are simply too great to ignore and that staying together for the sake of the kids is an honourable but ultimately misguided strategy.

Sometimes, things gather about themselves a blanket of sad inevitability.

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