As rumours continue to circulate that Pepe Reina might be leaving Liverpool, I thought I’d look at the form of potential replacements who I have seen rumoured could be signing for the Reds (with the obvious priviso that some of the deals will probably have a cat-in-hell’s chance of actually happening!). I’ve also included Brad Jones, as he signed a new contract this season and so will presumably remain with the Reds in 2013/14.
I have been critical of Pepe Reina on here in the past, but in fairness to the Spaniard, his recent form has been a lot better. He hasn’t made an Opta recorded error on the ball in the league for nine games (after six in his first twenty matches this season), and his save percentage has been on an upward trend all season (albeit he’s still below Premier League average):
In February, Chris Steel (Twitter) did a cracking piece of research which spawned the initial idea for this article, and if you’re a Tomkins Times subscriber you can read it here. If you’re not however (and you should be!), then Chris looked at the passing accuracy and save percentage of potential Liverpool goalkeepers.
I realised there was one way to improve the passing information though; focus on short passing accuracy only. Some of the keepers on the list play for teams where they are instructed to pass long at every opportunity, and so a lower passing accuracy is to be expected as a result.
Using WhoScored’s data, I have stripped out the long ball passes to try to assess which ‘keepers can play the sweeper role as favoured by Brendan Rodgers.
To try to give the best overall picture, I have added the save percentage and the short pass accuracy figures together to give a new overall combined metric. This is by no means perfect as it values the two attributes equally, so I’m open to suggestions in the comments regarding a potential weighting for the two variables.
It looks like Borussia Munchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen should be the man on Brendan Rodgers’ shopping list should Reina leave, as he has the best combined score. It should be noted that Pepe has the best short passing accuracy of the ten ‘keepers listed though, with Fraser Forster topping the save percentage rankings (though as he plays in Scotland, that is probably to be expected).
As ter Stegen may be unavailable due to a supposedly agreed move to Spain (though as with all transfer tittle tattle, who really knows what to believe?), Rodgers may have to look elsewhere if Reina is sold.
It is therefore interesting to note that Swansea City’s Michel Vorm, who the current Liverpool manager has of course worked with in the past, has the second best rating on the above table, and the only keeper aside from ter Stegen to outperform Reina this season.
Signing the Dutch stopper would no doubt lead the anti-Rodgers brigade to level further accusations at Brendan that he is trying to turn Liverpool into Swansea, and a permanent life of mid-table finishes would be the only outcome. The Reds’ poor overall transfer record in recent times would also likely make Kopites nervous with regards to the fee involved.
But for me, as he’s performing better than the current keeper at Anfield, then he should certainly be considered if Pepe does end up leaving Merseyside to return to his homeland. In an ideal world though of course, Reina will remain and continue to improve his form as he has been doing recently, and return to his world class form from a few years ago.
Related posts you might like:
The Truth About Pepe Reina’s Errors – A stat regarding Reina that is doing the rounds on Twitter is way off the mark.
Rodgers Requires Reina – Pepe’s passing stats show what he offers that Jones can not.
The Decline of Pepe Reina – The Spaniard’s save percentage has been on a downward slope since his first season…
Pepe Reina vs The Goalkeepers’ Union – How did Reina rank against his Premier League rivals in 2010/11?