The seemingly never-ending Pepe Reina soap opera took another inching step towards something resembling a conclusion today as news leaked out via multiple reputable sources that the goalkeeper will be free to depart for £4.2M in the summer. Outlets including the Liverpool Echo are reporting that prior to his Napoli move last summer, the club and player agreed to the insertion of a release clause into his contract—and that release clause is a lot lower than many would have guessed.
Today, most Liverpool fans will simply shrug. Talk of making back £8-10M or more off Reina as many did last summer always required a willing top level buyer along with something of a return to form for the player himself. The former disappeared when Barcelona decided they wanted to bring in Borussia Monchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the summer. When it comes to the latter, despite some hopeful signs in the autumn, Reina's form in 2014 has dropped off once again.
Many were left thinking Liverpool could end up stuck with him, yet still young for a goalkeeper and with the reputation he earned in his earlier years at Liverpool not quite entirely gone, it's hard not to think a side in Spain or Italy could still make use of the player. At least for the right price. And that £4.2M clause inserted into his contract seems to be just that—the right price. It's a fee that should allow Reina to find himself a new permanent home where, hopefully, he can begin to move on.
Of course, had Reina set Serie A alight with Napoli, rolling back the years and forcing his name back into the debate over the world's top goalkeepers, Liverpool fans would now be groaning over what would be labelled a massive misstep. He didn't, and now it's a clause that should help to expedite his permanent departure. Yet it's also worth noting that it's a clause that would only have been added into Reina's contract at his request, and it's hard not to see that as a mark against him.
Simply put, there's absolutely no reason for the club to seek such an amendment. It's a clause that valued Reina based on his form heading into last summer, but one that also meant that if he had a career-best season he would be able to make Liverpool regret replacing him by heading off to any club of his choosing for a low fee. It's a clause that, despite his complaints over Liverpool mistreatment, suggests Reina had a massive say in the manner in which he left for Napoli last summer.
It's a clause that will help Liverpool to be rid of a player not in their plans, but also one that gives Reina complete control over his next move as all he and his agent have to do is find a club willing to pay £4.2M to trigger his release—something that could have worked out terribly for Liverpool had Reina found his old form consistently at Napoli. In the end, it's a clause that only makes Reina's attempts to paint Liverpool as the villains in his departure more transparently self-serving.