Did Raul Meireles Leave For Money To Warm Chelsea’s Bench?
For the second time this year, one of Liverpool’s best waited until the eleventh hour to trade red for blue. Raul Meireles is a quality player, and Liverpool were intent on holding on to him, but a last minute transfer request left Dalglish’s hands tied and the Portuguese international was sold.
It says a lot about loyalty and the modern footballer, but Liverpool’s squad is strong enough to cope without him, thanks to a terrific Summer spending spree by Henry, Commoli and co.
There is no denying that Meireles is a quality player. One of the few bright spots from Roy Hodgson’s disastrous tenure, the Anfield faithful quickly warmed to the Portuguese international as he stood out amongst a series of poor performances.
When Daglish returned to his managerial throne it was Meireles who appeared to benefit most, scoring five goals in six games, including a stunning volley against Wolverhampton Wolves, demonstrating the technique that made him such fanciful booty for Hodgson.
Profiting from increased cohesiveness in the Liverpool side, Meireles began to pull the strings in central midfield and showed enough versatility to play on the right or the left. That impressive second term display saw him awarded the PFA fan’s player of the year award and saw a host of big clubs stalk him with interest.
There were signs of uneasiness early in the Summer though, with rumours circulating that a proposed contract improvement had been rejected by Fenway Sports Group. Those fears were heightened when Rory Smith reported Meireles would not be joining the team on the plane to Asia for the pre-season tour.
However, those fears seemed to be squashed as Meireles did travel and put together an impressive cameo with Luis Suarez as Liverpool saw off Arsenal 2-0. With Alberto Aquilani joining Milan on loan it seemed Meireles would surely be sticking around for Kenny’s revolution, rude fingers to the bench aside.
But on Wednesday night, Chelsea and Abramovich’s millions came knocking. And Meireles, like Torres before him, thought the grass was greener on the other side.
A preliminary offer quickly rejected, it wasn’t until the last hours before the close of the transfer window, that Meireles decided if he was going to be sitting on the bench at Liverpool he’d rather get paid more to do it in London instead, and quickly handed in a written transfer request to force the move through.
There is no question that this wasn’t the plan for Liverpool. When a transfer request is submitted so late in the day it’s almost impossible to find a suitable replacement. And although they still have a very strong squad, losing their two most creative midfielders (Gerrard aside) you do start to wonder whether they’ll be as much of a threat when Luis Suarez isn’t on the field.
Indeed, against Sunderland, Arsenal, Exeter and Bolton, Suarez has been the key man. Every time he’s gone off, Liverpool have looked far less dangerous going forward. But perhaps that’s just a question of the rest of the team gelling. After all, few players are as gifted as the Uruguayan, so few can instantly have an impact on those around them.
Despite this little hiccup, Liverpool had a very good transfer window. Much needed players were brought in, and unwanted deadwood was cleared out. We were the third biggest spenders of the Summer.
The players brought in might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there can be no doubt that we’re a significantly stronger outfit than last season. Downing, Henderson, Adam, Bellamy, Doni and Enrique will all do a good job for us now, and Sebastian Coates looks to be one of the very best young defenders in the world.
Clearly, Meireles was motivated by money in his move to Chelsea because his chances of first team football look even slimmer there. He had been promised a contract upgrade, but by another set of owners, so John Henry was well within his rights to deny him what he was seeking.
From the outside, Meireles looked a very popular member of the squad. Perhaps he wasn’t in the starting 11 in Dalglish’s eyes, but there’s no doubt he would have at least played a very important role coming off the bench.
Liverpool were in a very similar situation last transfer window when they sold Fernando Torres. Opposition fans, journalists and pundits alike predicted Liverpool would continue to struggle in the second half of the season without their talismanic striker.
But Liverpool went out and beat Torres’ new team a week later, and finished the season as one of the most impressive teams, climbing from 13th to to sixth in the Premier league table. That says a lot about team chemistry and everyone pulling the same direction.
Now, Meireles is not as important a player as Torres was and Liverpool are in a much better position than they were in January, but he was well-liked amongst his teammates, particularly with Suarez, Lucas, Kuyt and Maxi. Whereas Torres’ negative attitude was something that Liverpool were glad to get rid of, Meireles always appeared to give his all.
It will be interesting to see how the team reacts. Hopefully, it will bring the squad closer and spur them on when they take on Stoke City on September 10th, but it could equally go the other way, with team morale taking a hit and poor performances to follow.
If anything, the worst thing about this transfer, other than the fact we made very little profit, is that we again sold a good player to one of our closest rivals.
Chelsea versus Liverpool has been growing in stature in the 2000′s but this move lends even more importance to the 20th of November when the Reds travel to Stamford Bridge. Certainly, if Daniel Agger is fit for the occasion Meireles should steer well clear.
It’s obviously not ideal for one of our best midfielders to force a move through at the last second, but Liverpool’s squad is strong enough to do well without him. Whether the team will react positively or negatively remains to be seen, however, Liverpool fans can be happy with the transfer work that the management has undertaken, as the Reds are in a much better place than they have been for some time.
Submitted by Liverpool Football Blog
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