Liverpool have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. The 25-year-old Belgium international has signed a long-term contract, having passed a medical, after the Reds agreed a fee with Sunderland on Friday which could rise to £11million-plus.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has stressed Mignolet has not been signed as a replacement for established first choice keeper Jose 'Pepe' Reina, who has been linked with Barcelona for several months.
Despite a deal not yet materialising, complicated by the fact the Catalans' number one Victor Valdes has declared his intention to see out the remaining 12 months of his contract, there remains speculation it will happen.
Reina, on duty with Spain at the Confederations Cup, insists he sees his future at Anfield and, if that is the case, Mignolet is ready for the battle which will ensue.
Mignolet insists he is not scared by the competition he faces from Reina. “Competition can only be a good thing,” said the Belgian. “I've been in big competitions wherever I've been - in Belgium with the national team and in Sunderland with Craig Gordon and Keiren Westwood, who are international goalies. Now it's the same again with Pepe and with Brad (Jones).
”It's only a good thing - to be competitive and to train as hard as you can, it can only bring the best out of you. Pepe is an experienced goalkeeper who has proven a lot over the years.
“I'm looking forward to working with him, the same as I am with Brad and the goalie coach.
”It's a challenge, but that's what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure. I'm very confident in myself and my own abilities and I can't wait to get the first clean sheet under my belt. I've never been a nervous person.“
The move to Anfield is a step up for Mignolet, but he is relishing the challenge. ”It's a big club and when you arrive it's a big thing,“ he told liverpoolfc.com. ”I'm very pleased to be here and I'm looking forward to getting started. The first training [session] will be very early and I'll be happy to be there. I tried to keep this as quiet as I could because there are a lot of things that have to be finalised before you sign. I kept it quiet because I know my friends and family, they'd get excited but they're happy and hopefully they can come over for a lot of the games. I think they will be proud."
Mignolet is confident he can fit in with Rodgers' passing philosophy, which starts with the goalkeeper.
”Back in Belgium, the goalies always train to play with the ball at their feet,“ he said. ”We join in most of the time, playing more with our feet than with our hands. I'm used to this. I've spoken to him [Rodgers] a few times already and I'm very pleased. He is very ambitious, like I am. Let's hope we can win a lot of games and finish as high up the table as we can.“
Mignolet becomes Liverpool's fourth signing of the summer following Manchester City's Kolo Toure, Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas and Seville's Luis Alberto.
Rodgers is keen to get his business done early and he is also tracking Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Ilori and is interested in Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who failed to turn up to his club's pre-season training camp.
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