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 By Mike Whalley

Barca interest forced Reina Anfield exit

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he decided to replace Pepe Reina because of the goalkeeper’s desire to move to Barcelona.

Brendan Rogers will be hoping to have Pepe Reina back in time for the club's next fixture
Pepe Reina has been tipped to join Barcelona when Victor Valdes leaves the club next summer.

Rodgers confirmed on Friday morning that Reina has left Anfield to join Napoli on a season-long loan. The 30-year-old, though, was linked with a return to his first club Barcelona throughout the spring and early summer.

And Rodgers said that prompted him to seek another keeper, eventually buying Belgium international Simon Mignolet from Sunderland for £9 million.

Reina’s prospects of a move to the Nou Camp faded when Barca’s first choice Victor Valdes indicated that he would see his contract through to its end in 2014 rather than leave this summer.

But despite suggesting earlier this month that Mignolet had been signed to provide competition for Reina, Rodgers has allowed the Spain international to leave.

Speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, where Liverpool are preparing for Sunday’s friendly against Thailand, Rodgers said: “In terms of us as a football club, it was obviously a difficult decision but it's one from last season.

“As manager, I was led to believe we were going to get an offer for Pepe Reina that would probably see him leave the club. “Obviously, on the football side we had to ensure we protected the team. At that stage, we started our search for another goalkeeper and we found Simon Mignolet, who is top class and one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.

“As events transpired, Pepe’s move didn't quite happen and that left us with two very good goalkeepers. Both would have been fighting for the No. 1 position. “An opportunity then arose for Pepe that we felt as a football club was probably best for him.

“As a senior keeper, he needs to be playing. This is an important year for him with the World Cup next summer. It wouldn’t have served any purpose – for either the football club or him personally – if he was the one missing out.

“He has decided to go to Napoli but we still have two very good goalkeepers in Simon and Brad Jones. We will review the situation with Pepe when his loan has finished.”

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