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 By Mike Whalley

Reina backtracks on Liverpool claims

Pepe Reina has backtracked over his claims that he was unhappy with the way Liverpool handled his loan move to Napoli.

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But the goalkeeper is standing by his insistence that the transfer was set up behind his back.

Reina’s season-long switch to Serie A was confirmed last Friday, a month after manager Brendan Rodgers signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland for £9 million.

In an open letter to supporters, published on his official website on Monday, Reina claimed that Liverpool agreed a loan deal with Napoli without telling him first.

The Spain international wrote that he was "disappointed" with Liverpool’s management and "deserved better".

Reina maintains that Liverpool arranged the move without informing him - something the club have not commented on.

But he has attempted to smooth over the controversy in an interview with a Spanish radio show.

Reina told El Larguero: "I’m not angry with Liverpool - quite the opposite. I am very grateful to them for everything they have given me.

"My departure was different to what I expected, but I will always be grateful to them.

"This is the nature of football - when you are loved by a team, you really feel it, but when you go through bad moments, you are treated differently. In the end I will remember the love I felt from the fans for so many years.

"My time in England is where I have felt truly like a footballer and I have put my name among the best players. I’m very proud to have played almost 400 games with Liverpool.

"I’ll remember the friends I made in and outside the dressing room. Trophies stay in the cabinet gathering dust, but friends are for life."

Reina had been Liverpool’s first-choice keeper since arriving from Villarreal in 2005, but his status had been looking increasingly uncertain.

The 30-year-old’s form has dipped over the last two seasons, and he had been linked repeatedly with a move to Barcelona during the spring and early summer.

Manager Brendan Rodgers indicated last week that his decision to buy Mignolet was prompted by the possibility of Reina leaving for the Nou Camp.

The keeper acknowledged in his letter that he was interested in a move to Barcelona, but insisted that the switch to Napoli - coached by former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez - took him by surprise.

He said: "The signing wasn’t sealed, because you can’t do that without the consent of the player, but it was at an advanced stage and I didn’t know about it.

"Rafael Benitez is the best coach I have had. I don’t know if I’d have joined Napoli without him being there.

"There are many positive things about the city of Napoli and they have a fervent support, like Liverpool’s, but Benitez being there made it much easier for me to sign."


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