Written by David Tully for Live4Liverpool.com: Whether Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina goes or not at the end of the season, I would like to say for the record that he is a world class keeper and he would be sorely missed if he ever was to leave. Certainly there is no real evidence that Pepe wants to leave the club but with the past incident of Fernando Torres taken into consideration, nothing is certain in football, and Pepe could well be angling for the new owners to make their mark in the transfer market with his comments in a recent Guardian interview and on Spanish radio, or he may be uncertain about his future.
In any case, no matter the reality of the situation, the old adage of “no is bigger than the club” holds true here and many Reds fan will sight this saying if any of our big players ever decide to leave. Bearing in mind all these uncertainties at modern football clubs though, I think it would be foolish if we are to assume the Reds have not considered viable replacements if Reina decided to leave. Below I have listed the 5 goalkeepers I think should be the standby options if the Spaniard departs:
David De Gea – Although the youngest goalkeeper on the list, I believe De Gea also has the greatest potential. Still only 20, he broke into the Atletico Madrid first team mid way through last season after manager Quique Sanchez Flores finally lost patience with Sergio Asenjo after some high profile, costly errors. He was instrumental in Atletico’s Europa League win last season, and also was praised for his shot stopping abilities with man of the match performances against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao. He has been more inconsistent this season however, and after only having the number 1 for little over a year, it must be said he could go through a patch of bad form and lose his confidence altogether. In this light, without greater first team experience, he maybe a risk if he was chosen as the Reds’ first choice replacement for Reina. Rating: 8/10
Hugo Lloris – France’s international first choice goalkeeper, Lloris is supremely talented and at 24 years of age, he will only improve as a keeper. The fact that he is been playing first team football regularly for five years for both Nice and Lyon, also adds to his positive aspects. Again though, like all the keepers on this list, he is not perfect. Lloris does have problems dealing with crosses and especially corner kicks. In addition he made a big goalkeeping error playing for France against South Africa in the last summer’s World Cup. Lloris is however a great shot stopper, and has even captained France when they faced England Wembley back in November. Probably would be my first choice if Reina left. Rating: 9/10
Igor Akinfeev – I think it is fair to say that only Iker Casillas had more experience as Akinfeev has at 24 years of age. The Russian keeper made his debut for CSKA Moscow aged 17 and now has nearly 300 appearances to his name for the Russian club. In addition, he has won a UEFA Cup, two Russian League titles and has appeared in the Champions League during this time, while also being named the club’s captain. At international level, he has 47 caps for his country after making his debut aged just 18, and was part of the Russian side that finished 3rd at Euro 2008. The only concern is that he has yet to play in a top European league and dealt with the physicality of a division such as the Premier League. Rating: 8/10
Maarten Stekelenburg – The Dutch goalkeeper had an excellent World Cup last summer. He made a number of crucial saves during the tournament to keep the Netherlands on course for the final. His most notable one came from Kaka in the quarter final against Brazil and he only conceded six goals all tournament behind the Dutch team’s tight defence. At 28 years old, he is the oldest on the list and the reason why he hasn’t come to prominence earlier is because of his inconsistent form. He was Ajax’s player of the year in the 2007/08 campaign but became second choice in the following season after a string of poor performances. He returned to form last season to become Holland’s number one, and although he would be probably the cheapest option on the list, he may not be the best option. Rating: 7/10
Manuel Neuer – He maybe Germany’s current number one goalkeeper, but Neuer only really came to the fore at the back end of 2009. He had been tipped by many to become Jen Lehmann’s successor as the national team’s number one after he made his debut in 2006, but it took the death of Robert Enke in November 2009 and a rib injury to Leverkusen’s Rene Adler for Neuer to become first choice in Joachim Low’s team. He was selected ahead of Tim Wiese and Hans-Jorg Butt in the 2010 World Cup and performed well in the tournament, with many tipping him to replace Edwin van der Sar at Manchester United. Neuer can be somewhat of a erratic goalkeeper though and many see him moving to Bayern Munich rather than moving to England. Rating: 7/10
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