We know Chelsea have been on the trail of Luka Modric for a good portion of the summer, and with the deal reportedly being dead it would make sense that Chelsea would explore other targets. I was hoping to never have to write this profile, but after finding out that we've actually bid for Liverpool's Raul Meireles it seems we really are legitimately interested. There is certainly a lot to like about Meireles, but there's also quite a bit that I'm not huge on. Most of you are probably familiar, but for those that generally can't stomach watching Liverpool play here's a little look at what Meireles brings to the table.
Meireles is a 28 year old midfielder playing his club football at Anfield. He joined the club last summer after spending the majority of his career at Porto. He's a full Portuguese international, and tends to play centrally in a deep lying or box to box role. Standing 5'11, Meireles is both tall enough and strong enough to hold his own in the Premier League. He's never been noted for being exceptionally fast, but at this point in his career he makes up for that by being very aware of his positioning on the pitch. He still covers a fair amount of ground in most matches, although he's been noticeably less active than he used to be over a 90 minute shift since joining the Premier League.
Meireles is a very similar player to Luka Modric in how they play. Both are well known for their passing and vision of the field, and both generally offer more going forward in attack than they do defensively. Meireles is probably a slightly better finisher than Modric, as he often continues runs forward into the box like our own Frank Lampard tends to do. Also like Lampard, he sometimes struggles to get back defensively at this stage of his career. He's good with the ball at his feet, and is relatively quick to make decisions as to where to go with it.
I hate to drag up bad memories, but I'm going to do so in the first video I post. This one features all of Meireles' touches in the February game against us last year. It was probably his best game of the year on the whole, and came when he was in sensational form:
This second one is from a Portugal/Argentina game. The commentary is kind of quirky when it's cut and pasted like this, but the footage is very good:
Meireles is probably not a definite starter here at Chelsea. He and Lampard would likely make a nice pairing, as I really don't think either should be playing 90 minutes twice a week regularly anymore. He'd offer a change of pace for the bench, and he's certainly not going to make a whole lot of mental errors. He's also much cheaper than Modric, and he likely won't block the development of Josh McEachran going forward.
There's also not much upside here. You're likely buying Meireles in the declining years of his career, and he'll likely not be a factor into the team at all by the time his contract winds down. He won't fetch much if anything in a resale, and if Liverpool turned down the offer they did already I'm guessing they value him well above what we sold Yuri Zhirkov for. I really hope our offer was just to see if they'd let him go on the cheap, as while he'd be a very good fit tactically I just can't see him justifying a price tag of £15 million or more. That said, Liverpool is very weak with striker depth and if they'd be willing to do an exchange involving either Nicolas Anelka or Saloman Kalou my feelings about the deal would likely change greatly.