Pepe Reina admits it would be difficult to reject a move to Barcelona.
The Spanish champions are being tipped to enter the transfer market for a new goalkeeper this summer, after Victor Valdes turned down the offer of a new contract at the Camp Nou. Although he still has 12 months remaining on his existing deal, Barca are likely to consider offers for his signature rather than let him leave for nothing this time next year.
It has been widely reported that Reina would feature high on their list of potential replacements, with the former Villarreal man having earned a reputation as one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe since joining Liverpool in 2005. The 30-year-old has kept more clean sheets than any of his rivals in three of the eight seasons he has been in the Premier League, which is no mean feat when his side have consistently failed to challenge for the title.
Reina remains under contract at Anfield for another three years, and manager Brendan Rodgers recently stated that his player was not for sale. But whilst the Spaniard is happy with life on Merseyside, he admits the lure of Barcelona would be hard to resist.
“I’m very happy in England. At present, I just have an option: stay at Liverpool. Everything else is just talk. There has been no direct contact,” he said. “Barcelona is a great club and it is difficult to say no to a club like Barcelona. But we are talking about assumptions and I should not do it. It would be difficult leave Liverpool. If I do it, it is to improve and grow as player.”
The Madrid-born keeper actually began his career with Barca, having progressed through their youth ranks before making his debut for the first team in 2000. He went on to make 30 La Liga appearances for Blaugrana, before leaving for El Madrigal in 2002.