Why Newcastle Should Sign Pepe Reina But Not At The Expense of Karl Darlow
Reports emerged earlier this week (Northern Echo) stating that Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez isn’t happy with his goalkeeping options and is looking to revamp the entire goalkeeping department ahead of their return to the Premier League. And it wasn’t a surprise to see who was linked as a new No.1 for the Magpies – former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Speaking to the media recently, Benitez revealed his admiration for the Spaniard, hinting towards a summer move for the custodian. As quoted by Spanish outlet AS, the Newcastle manager said:
“I have a great relationship with Reina, a magnificent goalkeeper. Pepe is a great player and, above all, a leader in the changing room.
“We greatly missed him in Napoli the year that he left to play for Bayern Munich — he is someone who makes a difference on and off the pitch.
“Would I sign him for Newcastle if he left? I have a lot of respect for Napoli and he belongs to that club. We must be calm, speak to the club and decide what our aims are.”
Newcastle made it back to the Premier League after winning the EFL Championship title last season. Benitez relied on 26-year old Karl Darlow as his No.1 between the sticks for the entirety of the season, but dropped him towards the end, upon the return of Rob Elliott.
The former Real Madrid manager doesn’t completely trust Darlow and doesn’t seem to believe he can cut it out in the Premier League. Last summer’s signing Matz Sels hardly saw any game time and is widely expected to depart in the summer too.
Long-term servant Tim Krul is set for a return to the St. James’ Park after a season-long loan spell at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar and hinted that he would like to see out his contract with the Tynesiders that will expire next summer. However, it is believed that Benitez would rather sell him now than lose him for free a year later, which would leave just Elliott as the only option in goal.
So, it is not a surprise that Newcastle are in the market for a new shot-stopper. But should they really be going after Reina?
The 34-year old has worked with the manager on two occasions before, at Liverpool and Napoli, and was part of the UEFA Champions League winning team under Benitez with the Reds. He brings in a lot of experience at the top level and will also add a winning mentality to the side, having seen so much success throughout his career.
And as Benitez mentioned in his comments, Reina is someone who can be a leader on the field and in the dressing room, which would be of great help to a relatively young Newcastle squad.
So, there is no doubt that Reina will be a great addition to the ranks at the St. James’ Park, but it should not happen at the expense of Darlow. The 26-year old has done enough to warrant a place in the Newcastle team and deserves to be given a shot in the top division following his excellent exploits in the Championship. Anyway, Reina will not be a long-term solution for the club. And hence, it would only be prudent that Newcastle keep hold of Darlow, groom him under Reina for a year or two and get him ready to take over the mantle as the No.1 goalkeeper for the future.
So, it will be a big boost for Newcastle if they manage to bring in Reina, but they should not look to get rid of Darlow either.