With Liverpool's first pre-season match versus Preston North End less than two weeks away, the club's players who made an early exit from the World Cup or didn't end up in Brazil on official business in the first place will be making their way back to Melwood next Monday. A scattered few have already started their preparations and could be seen training together in advance of their colleagues arriving, but if there was any question as to whether or not Pepe Reina would be amongst them, those can now be laid to rest.
"I’m aware of the rumours circulating regarding the future of Reina, but I can confirm that Pepe will play at Liverpool next season," said Reina's agent Manuel Garcia Quilon. "Is a return to Napoli completely ruled out? Yes, Reina will respect his contract with the English club."
With options elsewhere drying up — Barcelona now have Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Victor Valdes is allegedly moving to Monaco — Reina doesn't have much of a choice but to report back to pre-season training. It marks the first summer in a long while that the player won't have a lengthy vacation earned sitting on the sidelines for Spain to prevent him from participating fully in the club's preparations, and where he fits in as things currently stand will be for both the player and Brendan Rodgers to determine.
Reina's high wages have been a sticking point for many, and the question as to whether Liverpool can afford to have a back-up keeper making as much as Reina is a legitimate one. If he stays on Merseyside, Reina would have to fight Simon Mignolet for his spot on a regular basis, but the Belgian would surely be Rodgers' first choice at the start of the season. Rodgers has consistently said he'll give anyone a chance who fights for it regularly in training, and with the jump start Reina will have on Mignolet in that department, it's still possible he could find a way to win back the affections of his manager.