With it all in the rearview now, I thought it would be a good way to get us to transfer season by giving a player review for everyone in the first team this season, and whether they will be back next year. We start in between the sticks.
I am still convinced that Pepe Reina is the best keeper in the world. Valdes at Barca has nothing to do, Casillas is getting up there in years, maybe Neuer at Schalke has a case, but I don't know that he has the area command that Reina seems to have, though he may be a better shot-stopper. No team would be improved by losing a keeper the quality of Reina, and after many twists in the road, it looks like Liverpool will be holding on to him.
Positives: Still one of the best shot-stoppers in the league. 44 goals conceded in 38 Premier League games is not the sort of record we'd become accustomed to, but a great majority of that was in the first part of the year under Roy Hodgson. Reina collected 11 clean sheets under Kenny Dalglish, compared to just five with Hodgson. Moving on, Reina became a leader and voice in the dressing room, captaining the team on a few occasions. And after many stories saying otherwise, Reina declared himself in for the long haul and excited about playing under Kenny again, further cementing how much things have changed since he took over, and only adding to our anticipation of next season.
Negatives: Well, there was that "abstract" keeping in the opener against Arsenal that cost the team three points, and who knows how things might have been different if the season had opened with a win over Arsenal while down a man for a half (answer: probably not much). There were a couple other howlers as well. And while it's completely unfair, Reina came to Liverpool with a rep for stopping penalties. Anyone remember the last one he saved? Again, that's not fair but any save in those games that got away from us could have been crucial in the chase for fifth or even fourth. But most of all, the constant buzz on his departure -- especially down the M62 -- were a needless distraction for a team that couldn't afford it. Thankfully, that's all passed over.
Outlook: While we did wonder how much cash Reina could bring in and how it might be better used, it can only be considered good news that we won't have to find out. With Reina and newly-stout defense in place next year, Liverpool can once again get back to being top of the goals conceded charts (especially if something can be found to cure Daniel Agger from being made of rubber cement). Reina is one of the premier players at his position in the world, and the fact that that quality of player is committing himself to the cause lets you know where this club is headed.