Rafael Benitez today hailed the leadership qualities that have established Pepe Reina as one of the stars of Liverpool's season so far.
The Reds' boss revealed last week how Reina was closing in on agreeing a new contract with the club, and Benitez insists his Spanish stopper will remain an integral part of his future plans.
"Pepe is the man closest to the fans on the pitch," said Benitez. "He listens to what they are saying and he knows what they are thinking and you can see the passion he has in the way he plays and the way he directs things.
"He is a fantastic character and he is proud to be here. He has a strong mentality and you can see that in the way he is in the dressing room and around the training ground. He is someone who always wants the best for this team.
"I think he has been playing really well and we are pleased with him. He is a top goalkeeper and has broken a lot of records since we signed him from Villarreal. We are delighted he is with us."
Reina has played every minute of every Premier League game for the Reds so far this term and Benitez insists the 27-year-old will only improve over the coming years.
"Pepe will continue to get better," added Benitez. "When you talk about goalkeepers who play for top teams, they don't tend to have that much to do during games.
"What sets them apart is being able to make important saves after they have not been busy and we have seen Pepe do that lots of times."