What initially appeared to be a difficult, emotional transition to a new number one at Liverpool has proven to be anything but. Simon Mignolet and Pepe Reina coexisted--in theory, not reality--for all of a month or two before the Spaniard was shipped to Napoli on loan, and as Mignolet hit the ground running for Liverpool, the only talk around Reina's future was focused not on a Merseyside return, but rather on how much the club will be able to sell him for when the 2013-2014 season is over.
That's a startling dropoff for a player who was so well-liked during his time at Liverpool, but it speaks volumes to the early form of Mignolet, who's made a number of crucial saves over the past few weeks. Reina's been decent at Napoli, saving a penalty at the San Siro last weekend in the 2-1 win over Milan, but the trajectories of the respective goalkeepers are, at least as far as Liverpool is concerned, headed in opposite directions.
And, according to the man himself, that signals the end of his time at Anfield:
'It did come as a surprise. It was the club [Liverpool] who made the move. I was on my holidays and nobody told me anything. Suddenly Napoli called and said they were agreeing terms with Liverpool and Liverpool just rang me two days later and said the same. They probably had their own reasons.
'At the moment it's difficult to think about being a Liverpool player next year. They have a young goalkeeper in Simon Mignolet and the manager prefers him to me. That's the reason why I'm here and he will be at the club next year as well. There's no reason to think I'll be a Liverpool player from now on but we'll see where the future takes us. It's been a good move so far and I don't regret what happened. I would have preferred to say goodbye in a different way.'
It doesn't appear as though he's going to get that emotional sendoff in front of the Kop that he's clearly looking for and probably does deserve. Emotions say that'd be great, rational thought says that's the cost of wanting to leave the club for somewhere else and then not getting said move to somewhere else. Best for the player and best for the club were no longer in line, and Liverpool did what they had to.
I love Pepe Reina and hope he does well for Napoli and wherever else he ends up next season, and Liverpool probably could have been more transparent in the way they handled what's become the prologue to a permanent exit. But the club took care of themselves in bringing Simon Mignolet aboard and have been rewarded for doing so, and it's hard to disagree with the former number one that his permanent future lies elsewhere.