Wednesday 26 July 2017

Reina admits he wanted to force his Liverpool exit

Pepe Reina. Photo: Getty Images
Pepe Reina. Photo: Getty Images

Rory Smith

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina revealed he sought reassurances from director of football Damien Comolli over the club's transfer ambitions this summer before committing his future to Anfield.

The Spain international admits he did, at the height of Liverpool's crisis period in December and January, consider using a £20m get-out clause in his contract this summer and depart the club he joined in 2005, despite signing a six-year contract last April.

Reina has since been so impressed by Liverpool's revival under Kenny Dalglish and by the plans put in place by Fenway Sports Group, the club's owners, to rebuild the squad that he insists his fears over the future have been assuaged.

"Everything has changed, the whole situation of the club," said the 28-year-old. "Recently I have talked with Comolli, asking about the future, and I believe in the club and this project. I am happy here.

"We know how much work there is to be done, but I believe we are in the right place and we are going in the right direction. Next season will be more positive. The quicker we improve, the better for the club, but we cannot change overnight. The owners are preparing a big summer and hopefully the players that come in will improve the squad."

Overhaul

The former Villarreal 'keeper will be pleased to learn that Tom Werner, Liverpool's chairman, has confirmed Comolli and his scouting team are examining the credentials of a host of players, with as many as 22 players expected to join or leave the Anfield side in the most thorough overhaul of Liverpool's squad for more than a decade.

"Sometimes your targets change from time to time," the chairman said. "We certainly have the resources to improve the club and we're moving in the right direction. We are determined to improve and I know Damien is already looking at a bunch of targets."

Those targets range mostly between the ages of 21 and 24, in line with FSG's intention to reduce the average age of the squad. Aston Villa's Ashley Young and Newcastle's Jose Enrique, both 25, are exceptions, as is Villa's Stewart Downing, who is 26.

Comolli is thought to have narrowed his choices down to two or three candidates for every position, with only Sylvain Marveaux, the Rennes midfielder available on a free transfer, close to completing a move.

Frenchman Comolli has overseen a thorough search of Europe for players, with a host of names linked with moves to Anfield. Alongside Enrique, Paris Saint-Germain's Mamadou Sakho, Blackburn's Phil Jones and Bolton's Gary Cahill are the prime defensive targets, with two wingers, a central midfielder and a striker also due to arrive.

Ipswich's Connor Wickham, Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain, Marko Marin of Werder Bremen, and Marseille's Andre Ayew are among a number of players tracked by Comolli's team.

Sunday's 2-0 loss to Tottenham has reduced the club's chances of enjoying European football next season and Liverpool may have to settle for sixth place. That finishing sixth has come to represent failure, though, shows a substantial turnaround after the dire start to the campaign made under Roy Hodgson, when Liverpool dropped into the relegation zone and Reina considered leaving Merseyside.

"In December and January, it was not just the players but most people around the club who were doubting the future," Reina admitted.

"We were not good enough. I never felt I had to leave, because I wanted to believe in the project, but the situation was not nice and the mood all over the club was not good. Thankfully that is not the case any more. My family were desperate to stay because they are really happy here, and so am I. We are ready to take the next step." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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