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Can Liverpool really afford to lose Pepe Reina? 5 Year of Stats Compared

Pepe Reina

At the age of 30, Pepe Reina is starting to reach the point in his career that many experts dub the peak of a shot stopper. A great servant to Liverpool, he has made an impressive 285 appearances since joining from Villarreal in 2005. However, with strong rumours on the horizon that Victor Valdes might be departing Barcelona for Monaco this summer, the Catalan giants are supposedly targeting Reina as his ideal replacement.

And as arguably one of the greatest goalkeepers to grace Anfield’s presence, would it be a wise move for Brendan Rodgers to let him leave Merseryside this summer?

For me, it would be a foolish move from a manager who is looking to rebuild this Liverpool side after a few unstable years.

After playing every minute of Premier League football from 2008 to 2011, it was clear to see that he was at the top of his game. His record of 20 clean sheets in the 2008/09 season nearly helped to guide Liverpool to their first Premier League title – only to fall at the final hurdle.

And with a goals conceded per game ratio that the best in the business would be in awe of, he was constantly striving to help Liverpool reach the Premier League crown since joining eight years ago.

reina stats 08to11

A number of problems arose within Liverpool following their successful season in 2009 and resulted in the Reds finishing in 7th and 6th the following seasons. It was a clear period of instability at the club and despite Reina’s best efforts, his stats naturally declined in the following years, as shown in the images above.

Glen Johnson was still trying to embed himself into the team following his move from Portsmouth, whilst many questions were starting to be raised regarding the defensive capabilities of Emiliano Insua at left back. The loss of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona the following season didn’t help matters either, as Reina was having to deal with an unsettled defence in front of him. The number of clean sheets kept by the Spaniard decreased by three in each season, whilst he was forced to make 35 more saves than in 2009. Critics points to the number of mistakes he made during this period, which have increased in recent years but could a loss of confidence have caused this? Many have said that since goalkeeping coaches Jose Ochotorena and then Xavi Valero left Pepe Reina has been unhappy with the coaching especially with the coach that Roy Hodgson employed during his stay.

[quote]I have worked with some great coaches, but the one who is the absolute master is Ochotorena. He knows me better than anyone else, understands everything about my strengths and weaknesses, and working with him has been one of the greatest experiences of my career. Ocho is the one who knows me better than anyone else and the one who can bring the very best out of me…(Ochotorena) is the best goalkeeping coach on the planet.

Pepe Reina in his Auto-Biography[/quote]

The past two seasons have seen Reina play fewer minutes in the league after injuries and suspension hampered his unblemished records, but his stats have rarely suffered despite this. As you can see in the picture below, Reina has actually kept more clean sheets despite playing 263 fewer minutes between the sticks. In fact, he has had to make less saves (an improving defence?), however his cross collection stats have seen a huge decline – a sign of a loss of confidence?

reina stats 1112reina stats 1213 (1)

He has always received widespread support from his managers since joining Liverpool, and Rodgers hasn’t been an exception to this rule as the Irishman has continuously backed his number one to produce when it matters. And he has done exactly that. It is a shame that, barring a miracle, the trio of Jamie Carragher (already retired), Steven Gerrard and Reina will be unable to give Liverpool the title of Premier League champions, as these three have really shown what it means to be associated with Liverpool during the past decade.

He has admitted himself that a move back to the Nou Camp would be extremely difficult to turn down, and despite pledging his commitment to the Reds until 2016, you’d imagine it will be extremely difficult for John Henry to persuade him to stay put if Barcelona come calling.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a disaster if he was to depart, but those in the boardroom at Anfield should be doing all in their power to keep him at Liverpool for the forseeable future at least. Not only is there a lack of better alternatives on the market, but he gives Rodgers the stability that they currently need and is a leader in the back-line.

[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]

Aaron Leggott
Aaron Leggott
I am a freelance Sports Journalist currently studying for a degree in the field at Staffordshire University. I have just finished my second year and am a huge fan of all sports, but football in particular.
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