Symposium #7 – Should We Keep Pepe?

Symposium #7 – Should We Keep Pepe?
February 8, 2013 Paul Tomkins

The question we asked our panel this week was – should we sell Reina, and if so who should replace him? This is what they had to say:

By Dan Kennett:

Others will cover the statistics and the general decline over the last three or four years. Personally I’m still torn over Reina as he’s “only” 30 and has anywhere between five and ten years of his career still left. He’s also one of the few leaders in the team. On the other hand, he’s empirically not what he was, one of the top earners at the club and would fetch a good price if sold.

Overall I’m leaning towards sell, especially if Barcelona come in with an offer over £12m.

For a replacement, I don’t think we should go down the road of young English keeper as we’ve been burned many times with David James, Chris Kirkland and Scott Carson. I think we need someone ‘first team ready’. Domestically, I like the idea of Julio Cesar when QPR go down. He’s vastly experienced and is going through a renaissance following his 2010 dip of form.

Outside of that I’d look to the Bundesliga as they have a glut of extremely good goalkeepers. Adler at Hamburg, Wiese at Hoffenheim, Zieler at Hannover, Kraft at Hertha, Trapp at Frankfurt, Ulreich at Stuttgart, ter Stegen at Gladbach. In fact pretty much any goalie in the Bundesliga!

By Daniel Rhodes:

No. Unless he wants to, or unless we get £18m+ as a fee. He’s 30, has been world class across a number of seasons, and is one of the best sweeper-keepers in the Premier league. However, as this article by Beez points out, his save percentage has declined gradually since Rafa (or more specifically, GK coach Jose Ochoterena) left the club.

Similar to Suarez last season, who was rated one of the poorer strikers across the whole league, blips can happen. Is it the constant change in coaches, the constant change in playing style or the constant change in managers? Who knows? But, I don’t buy the permanent decline theory; Edwin Van der Sar was 35 when Ferguson signed him, and then he was number one for another six seasons, and I distinctly remember some dodgy periods/games at Juventus and Fulham.

That means we could be selling a world class keeper with another 10 seasons, minimum, ahead of him. Pure madness. What Pepe needs is competition… a real threat to his number one status. Asmir Begovic is one option, but he might be overpriced, as he’s being looked at by a number of clubs. And this is the issue, quality keepers are hard to find. Once you have one, keep him. If he doesn’t react well to the competition, then that’s further, concrete evidence, of a decline. If he responds, and returns to the Reina of the Rafa years, I wouldn’t swap him with any other keeper in the world.

By Joe Pepper:

Depends on how much we can get for him.

If the best we can get is something like 8m, then definitely not. If someone offers 18m, then definitely yes. Anything in between is a very grey area.

It’s not so much that Reina is making mistakes as the fact that he doesn’t seem to save much. Obviously this is incredibly unscientific but it feels as though I can barely remember him making a save that has noticeably prevented a likely goal. One that springs to mind is last week at Arsenal where he had his best game for some time.

I should caveat my position by adding “be careful what you wish for”. We don’t want to end up in a situation like a lot of clubs who can’t find a decent keeper for love nor money (for example United who went over a decade between Schmeichel and Vand Der Saar without an established keeper).

Overall though, I can’t help but feel that the wider world thinks Reina is better than he is. We obviously watch him every week, and as much as I like Reina, it seems strange that Barcelona couldn’t find someone better than him.

If his Spanish links cause Barcelona to offer big money, I’d take it.

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