Barca risk Rafa's wrath again with move for Liverpool keeper Reina
17 June 2009 11:46
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Barcelona are set to push Rafa Benitez's patience to the limit by launching a bid for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The European champions have already been met with resistance in a move for Anfield midfielder Javier Mascherano - but Lionel Messi has stepped up the pursuit by inviting his friend to the Nou Camp.
Benitez has insisted neither Mascherano nor Real Madrid target Xabi Alonso is for sale and now he faces a raid for is 26-year-old keeper.
Barcelona are moving for Reina after contract talks with Victor Valdes broke down yesterday. The treble winner has a year left on his contract and wants to be paid the same £150,000 a week that midfielder Xavi gets.
But the club and his agent Gines Carvajal suspended talks indefinitely with Barca not prepared to go above £100,000 a week.
The Catalans are working on a number of options but have identified Reina as the safe choice, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. They believe he would cost at least £17million but could force a move if he declares a desire to return to Spain four years after leaving Villarreal.
Messi has also tried to coax his Argentina team-mate Mascherano into pushing for a move, despite Benitez insisting even £50m wouldn't tempt him to sell.
Messi is quoted in The Sun as saying: 'It will be beautiful if Barcelona signed Javier, as a player and as a friend. Not only to have him on the pitch but also off it as well. He's a great player and would be a great signing.'
Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Heinze, and Lionel Messi
International superstars: Argentina captain Javier Mascherano (left) with Gabriel Heinze (centre) and Lionel Messi
Reina earlier this month insisted his future was at Anfield. If Barcelona fail to sign him, Fiortentina's French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey has been mentioned as an option in Italian press while £10m-rated Villarreal keeper Diego Lopez and Athletic Bilbao's Gorka Iraizoz are also on their radar.
A £5m swoop for Spain Under 21 keeper Sergio Asenjo is close, but Barcelona are likely to want the option of a more experienced recruit as well. The 19-year-old Valladolid keeper is wanted by Fiorentina, but his agent Zoran Vekic says he would rather stay in Spain.
Barcelona could hold Valdes to his current contract while Asenjo acts as understoody, but would be tempted to try to cash in with reported interest from Manchester United.