Arsenal boss ready to swoop for Liverpool star
ARSENE Wenger is ready to take advantage of the growing financial crisis at Liverpool by tempting the Anfield club with a bid for Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The Gunners boss wants a new No 1 to replace his error-prone keepers Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski, and identified Reina as his top target in the summer.
In August Liverpool refused Arsenal permission to talk to the 28-year-old, who had just signed a new contract to keep him at Anfield until 2016, and Wenger also failed with a late bid to sign Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer.
However, the deepening financial worries at Liverpool could see them forced to sell off star names in the January transfer window, and Wenger will make another effort to land Reina with a �15m bid.
Liverpool could go into administration if, as expected, they reach the October 6 deadline for their �237m debt repayment to the Royal Bank of Scotland without finding a new buyer for the club.
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With their current owners, the American duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett, set to be refused any further financing by the bank, the club could be asked to repay a total outstanding debt of �280m or even fall under the control of the bank.
Despite signing his new deal, Reina is known to have been unhappy at Liverpool since the departure of the man who signed him, Rafael Benitez, and the summer arrival of Roy Hodgson.
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That has alerted Wenger who, despite his public backing for Almunia at the weekend following his errors in the 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, has lost patience with the 33-year-old.
“For what happened, everybody will criticise Almunia but if we are 0-0 at half-time it is because of Almunia,” said Wenger after the Spaniard had saved a first-half penalty from Peter Odemwingie but then gifted a the visitors’ second goal to Gonzalo Jara.
Almunia was replaced by Fabianski for Tuesday night’s trip to Belgrade, but his manager insisted that it was due to injury rather than a case of him being dropped.
“No I would not have dropped him,” insisted Wenger.
“The keeper is always the easy target, the easy scapegoat, but we win together and we lose together, even if people think he made a mistake on the second goal.
“He is injured, he did his right elbow in conceding the penalty [on Saturday]. We checked him at half-time, he had some pain but said he could go on.
“If a player has just saved a penalty and says he is perfectly all right then it is difficult to take him out. I would have done if he had said ‘yes, I feel it’.”
“Manuel is very low, very disappointed, but then the whole team is low,” added Wenger, who could now be relying on shaky No2 Fabianski for Sunday’s trip to league leaders Chelsea.
“I have no concerns,” said Wenger over Fabianski, who saved a penalty in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Partizan Belgrade and is set to stay in the side.
“Only the media do. Fabianski made errors in the past but has shown he can learn from them.”