‘Barca’s interest a compliment’

Pepe Reina has mused on how he remains focused on doing well at Napoli, even as he admits it is a compliment to have Barcelona following his work.

The goalkeeper is currently on loan in Serie A from Liverpool for the season but has been strongly linked with a move back to Barcelona next summer, as a replacement for the departing Victor Valdes.

Talking to Mundo Deportivo this week, the 31-year-old first mused on his current situation and how he ended up in Naples.

“I am super happy. It was a decision on the rebound but so far at both a sporting and family level everything is going better than expected,” considered Reina on work this term at the Stadio San Paolo.

“Why Napoli? It is how it was. Liverpool signed another goalkeeper and the Coach announced that I would not play and that he prefers Mignolet and there was the chance for me to go to Napoli.

“I know Rafa Benitez perfectly, I know what he can get from me and I see it as a better place to fight for things.

“It is an interesting sporting project, a major League, there is the Champions League, and this is a young and hungry team.”

The goalkeeper was asked about the interest from Barcelona and the possibility of a return to the Camp Nou.

“It is something that I have focused on little, in the sense that I am very focused on doing well with Napoli.

“The change has been great because I want to focus only on doing well, to please, to take a year ahead with people who from the first minute have supported me and who have treated me great, and that we must respect.

“What happens in the future is beyond me. What is certain is that I will return to Liverpool after the year loan and that is where it will be decided what to do.”

Barca Vice-President Josep Maria Bartomeu has commented that Reina and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are two candidates on a ‘very small’ list to replace Valdes.

“Of course, for any player it is a compliment when a big club continue to analyse your work, if it is so. It is nice and it encourages you to keep working well.

“I’m on Barca’s list of candidates? I imagine I am one of many. Barca, for the great club that they are, will have a detailed plan for the position and with the confirmation that Victor will leave at the end of the season, will be following several candidates.

“It is nice that a club like Barcelona follows you and that it is down to what you are doing. I hope to do well because I want to give joy to the fans of Napoli and because I have been reunited with feelings that I have long since missed.

“Have I imagined a return to Barca? No, because I am a realist and I have not yet been given the chance and I have not imagined anything.

“Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Pedro have all said they want me to return? That’s why they are my friends! I am grateful for their words, for their love and for their professional opinion. There is little more I can say, I am delighted that I am valued so.”

Reina was asked if he would accept a move to Barca if it was to play as back-up to Ter Stegen, or someone else.

“What I want is to do very well this year, to be highly regarded at Napoli and to arrive at a situation where I can choose a club where I can play, which is what interests me.

“To play every four or five days and feel important in every game.”

Tags Liverpool Napoli Reina