We knew Pepe Reina was unlikely to stay with Liverpool, but coming off a season where he started 30 games for Napoli in Serie A, most thought he’d end up somewhere where he could be number one. Particularly with Claudio Bravo moving to Barcelona, one place Reina might settle for a part-time role, the Spanish international looked likely to move farther down the European ladder, with Napoli Rafa Benítez declined to buy-out his deal at Anfield.
Not so, says today’s news. Instead of prioritizing playing time, the 31-year-old has climbed up the European ladder, joining German champions Bayern Munich for a fee that’s believed to be $4.2 million. With Manuel Neuer entrenched at Bayern, Reina will assume a backup role, the first time since 2001-02 he hasn’t been a team’s number one.
From club chairmen Karl-Heinze Rummineige, as posted to the club’s website:
“Pepe Reina was eager to come to Bayern Munich. He wanted to embark on this adventure even though he knows that, in Manuel Neuer, he has a keeper in front of him who, if nothing changes, will always remain the number one.”
Bayern had previously been linked with Costa Rican international Keylor Navas, who eventually moved from Levante to Real Madrid. While that signing would have given München an extravagant backup, Reina isn’t much of a step down. Though the former Barcelona, Villarreal, and Liverpool player eventually lost his job at Anfield, he’s still capable of starting for quality European club.
Instead, Reina has opted to rejoin Guardiola, with whom he played during his first season in Barcelona. While the move may also indicate he’s closer to his career’s final stage, it gives him a chance to add to an honors list that includes a World Cup, two European Championships, an FA Cup, and a Coppa Italia.