Brendan Rodgers made his fourth signing of the summer on Tuesday night as highly-rated Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet arrived at Liverpool from fellow Premier League side Sunderland for a fee reported to be around the £9m mark.
Rodgers suggested that the 25-year-old stopper, who will become the first Belgian to play for the Reds, has been purchased to provide suitable competition for Liverpool’s current first choice, Pepe Reina. Only time will tell whether the Anfield outfit, who failed to qualify for a continental competition last term, can realistically afford the luxury of possessing two excellent goalkeepers.
Mignolet, a fans’ favourite at the Stadium of Light, caught the attention of Premier League audiences with a string of impressive performances for the struggling Black Cats in the last campaign and while Reina’s displays improved over the course of the season, it is argued that his form has generally taken a dip over the last few years. However, the Spaniard boasts great experience and significantly a winning mentality – Reina has been part of the successful recent Spain squads which have dominated world football. Perhaps a sense of fierce competition will help to get the best from Reina once again.
But there is a feeling on Merseyside that Mignolet was brought in to replace Reina, rather than to provide competition for him. Liverpool’s goalkeeper is reportedly wanted by his former club Barcelona and should such a transfer opportunity arise, the Spaniard would be likely to seal a move back to his homeland. However, it is unclear how much interest the La Liga champions hold in Reina; therefore if it was Rodgers’ plan to sign Reina’s replacement before letting him leave, then it was a risky move.
While the Reds are at risk of keeping hold of a player who takes up a significant chunk of the wage bill, they could also be in danger of losing Reina on the cheap. Other clubs will be aware of Mignolet’s arrival at Anfield and could drive the price of Liverpool’s Spanish star down as a result. If Barcelona are genuinely interested in taking Reina back to the Nou Camp, then they are currently in a strong position, with Liverpool likely to be desperate to sell him on to save on the wage budget and fund another signing.
Despite the dilemma in the goalkeeping position, supporters seem to be pleased with the way the Reds have conducted their transfer business so far this summer. Liverpool came to an agreement to sign Manchester City’s central defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer soon after the 2012/2013 season had been completed, while the Merseysiders recently acquired Spanish duo Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto subject to international clearance.
With Mignolet’s move done and dusted, Liverpool have signed four players before July – and further additions are expected. There is a feel-good factor within the fan-base thanks to these quick deals, though this goodwill may evaporate should the Reds allow key man Luis Suarez to leave in the coming months.
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