The fate of Pepe Reina is one of the more frequently discussed transfer rumors over the past season or two; ever since the departure of Rafa Benitez and subsequent arrival of Roy Hodgson, the Spanish goalkeeper has seemed unsettled more often than he's content, with erratic form and constant talk of a return to Spain. That talk has been at all-time high this season, as a deal with Barcelona has been either close or around the corner for most of the season, and while Victor Valdes' announcement that he would be staying through next season seemed to kill the rumor for good, talk is now back on full blast as the club reportedly close in on a deal for Belgian international and Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Multiple sources have Liverpool either in the final stages of agreeing a deal or with very concrete interest--the BBC was one of the first to run the story earlier in the day, with Phil McNulty asserting that an agreement was close, and Neil Jones from The Liverpool Echo chimed in on Twitter with this:
Mignolet: Interest from #LFC is genuine. Fees being discussed (£9m) are correct. Nothing imminent at this stage, say club.— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) June 15, 2013
#LFC also looked long and hard at Vorm (Swansea) and Pantillimon (Man City). But Mignolet very much the #1 goalkeeping target now, it seems.— Neil Jones (@neiljonesecho) June 15, 2013
So while it seems that a deal isn't as close as some say, it is a very real target, and one that casts the future of Pepe Reina very much in doubt. One wouldn't expect Mignolet to be too excited about a transfer that would see him relegated to a number two role after starting for Sunderland, especially in a year that will likely see Belgium qualify for the World Cup and enter the competition as one of the dark horse candidates.
As far as quality goes there's little I can say about the difference between Reina and Mignolet, as the only times I've really paid attention to him have come when Liverpool and Sunderland met. I can remember being impressed on an occasion or two, and know that, at different times over the past two seasons, he was involved in the conversation as one of the league's better goalkeepers.
Whether or not this pans out, the story for Liverpool supporters will be about the potential exit for Pepe Reina, who has remained a sentimental favorite despite struggling for form. Competition to push him would be welcome, but the names the club have reportedly looked at--Costel Pantilimon aside--seem to be replacements rather than backups, a trend that continues here with Simon Mignolet.