With reported interest for Pepe Reina in the press, Ørjan Nyland would be aggrieved to lose his position as number one with recent performances.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Ørjan Nyland will not be happy to hear about Aston Villa’s reported interest in former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina after recent performances have looked to solidify the Norwegian’s stake for the number one shirt.
Despite conceding three goals in his last two appearances, two against Fulham and one against Leicester City – he can’t be blamed for any of them. Both of Fulham’s goals were world-beating strikes, whilst Iheanacho’s goal in the Carabao Cup was the fault of Douglas Luiz despite a disciplined defensive display beforehand.
When Nyland has been in the net this season, a far cry from his performances last season, the goalkeeper has looked assured, making a number of key claims and saves. His distribution at times has looked shaky, however.
If Pepe Reina, now thirty-seven, does arrive at Villa Park on the rumoured six-month contract with an automatic year extension if Aston Villa stay up, the club will without a shadow of a doubt have the best goalkeeping depth in the entire English footballing leagues, with Tom Heaton (injured), Matija Sarkic, Jed Steer (injured) and Lovre Kalinic all on the books, as well as the aforementioned Ørjan Nyland.
There’s the argument of experience to place more confidence in the defenders in front of the goal, and Reina, who has won a World Cup, two international European Championships, the European Super Cup, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Bundesliga and the Coppa Italia – would provide exactly that.
The signing should it happen is a confusing one, with a possible 18-month stay at Villa Park if Aston Villa stay up – and could leave the likes of Tom Heaton out of the starting line-up.
Then again, Reina could be a real presence in the dressing room, but where does that leave Ørjan Nyland?
The Norwegian international would be disappointed to have lost his spot despite not putting a foot wrong – even when Aston Villa have lost.
There’s also the prospect of Pepe Reina’s wages. It’s likely that he wouldn’t be on a huge wage due to his age, but it’s more money that has gone into a relatively injury-prone goalkeeping department under Dean Smith’s tenure and Neil Cutler’s coaching.
Since last season, Reina has missed over 70 days via injury, with a muscle injury keeping him out for a month, and ‘stomach complaints’ keeping him out for over a month this season at AC Milan.
It also begs the question of Matija Sarkic – the young Montenegrin international has been recalled from what was shaping up to be a very successful season in Scotland with Livingston. What was the point in recalling him, in the last year of his contract, if he’s not even going to make the bench?
The Reina interest begs multiple questions, but for us, Ørjan Nyland deserves his chance.