New role for Raul from Liverpool to Chelsea…
I suppose Raul Meireles’ last-gasp £12 million move from Liverpool to Chelsea was the stand-out, from a rather underwhelming transfer deadline day.
So, what have Chelsea now got in Raul Meireles? Is he a Modric clone that will link play and pirouette through the midfield? No, Meireles doesn’t have those attributes.He is far more likely to rampage through a midfield than dribble around it.
However at 28 years of age, Chelsea have purchased an experienced International footballer who will give their midfield much needed exuberance and mobility. Meireles is an energetic player who provides versatility, assists and goals.
Some will ask where Raul Meireles will fit in at Chelsea? Cynics suggest he was a panic buy by Villas-Boas, after being thwarted in his efforts to sign Luka Modric. Others think that Meireles and Lampard will struggle to co-exist in an attacking midfield. Both like to readily vacate central positions and get in the box. Both like to hang around the edge of the area and shoot at distance. Surely they’ll make the same runs and get into each others way?
These suggestions couldn’t be further from the truth. What I believe Chelsea have actually done, is finally fill the void left by Michael Ballack last summer. With Lampard and Meireles, Chelsea now have much more of a goal threat from central midfield. There will be less pressure on Didier Drogba to be the clubs principle source of goals. Chelsea do not look the same team when Drogba is unavailable or off-form (as we saw last season). Heck, the additional goal threat might even take the spotlight off the misfiring Fernando Torres.
As a Liverpool fan, I know first-hand how good Meireles can really be. Especially, in a free-flowing team that play with fluidity and pace. He’ll exploit gaps and make a ridiculous amount of runs for the team. One of the reasons he settled so well into life in the Premier League is because he’s an extremely intelligent player. Let’s not forget he won the 2011 PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award in his debut season.
Trust me when I say that the deadline day deal for Raul Meireles, was a clever coup by Andrea Villas-Boas. He now has a player who was one of the few success stories from Liverpool’s dismal 2010/2011 season. Meireles has also played regularly in the Champions League. Something that will come in handy as Abramovich’s Chelsea plot another pursuit of club football’s richest prize.
I would go as far as saying that this transfer may have swung a title challenge back in Chelsea’s favour. With Meireles, Mata and Lukaku added to Chelsea’s already strong but slightly ageing spine, they now have a squad capable of keeping pace with both of Manchester’s early pacesetters. Man City and Man Utd have been playing sparkling football thus far, but weren’t we saying the same thing about Chelsea this time last season? You don’t win anything in September, as the pundits love to say.
It is unfair to make direct comparisons with the man Abramovich eyed (Luka Modric) and the man he ended-up with (Raul Meireles). Modric is a creator who can win you a game single-handedly. Meireles is perpetual motion and makes others around him tick. They are very different players but equally excellent, just in varying ways. This is despite the fact both players created exactly, 66 goal-scoring chances for their respective clubs last season.
This is an interesting tidbit to finish off with. Only two players scored for Liverpool against Chelsea during the whole of last season (Torres and Meireles). Now both ply their trade with the club from Kings Road. The two clubs will clash again this season on November 20th 2011 and 5th May 2012. I wonder what will happen if Steven Gerrard or Luis Suarez score in any of those games? Just a thought.