Raul Meireles’ proposed move away from Liverpool FC after what has been impressive first season in England by the Portuguese international has been met by widespread disapproval from the Anfield faithful.
The 2011 PFA Fan’s Player of the Year has certainly came into his own following Kenny Dalglish’s arrival at the helm.
Bagging five goals, including a beautiful right-footed volley against Wolves and a crucial winner against Chelsea, along with a series of instrumental performances established Meireles as a firm fan favorite after flattering to deceive, as many players did under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson.
Part of his success for The Reds under Dalglish however maybe a little more to do with the injury situation at the club during the closing months of the season rather than a tactical oversight by Dalglish’s predecessor.
Without doubt, the passing game adopted and immediately implemented by Dalglish and Steve Clarke saw Liverpool return to the system that made them famous and in turn brought out the best in Meierles and the team.
Under Hogdson and with a full-strength Liverpool squad, Meireles drifted in and out of game and was rarely used in his favored midfield position often been shifted out to the flanks to accommodate other midfield players.
When Torres left in January and was replaced by the injured Andy Carroll it seen Luis Suarez go up front with Meireles playing in behind the forward temporarily (interchanging with Kuyt occasionally) until Carroll returned to full fitness.
Steven Gerrard’s season ending surgery on a troublesome groin injury coupled with Carroll’s return shifted Meireles back to midfield and provided a chance to cement his place in Dalglish’s first team plan
It’s this versatility that could be reason why an exit is being so heavily touted in a not dissimilar situation to Jamie Carragher retiring from England duty a few years ago.
Jordan Henderson has arrived this summer and with the possible arrival of Charlie Adam add to an already crowed midfield.
Stewart Downing’s proposed transfer in addition to one or two more attackers leave opportunities for Meireles looking pretty slim.
If Steven Gerrard is injured Henderson will almost certainly play in that role ahead of Meireles.
Jay Spearing has shown he would be more than capable of replacing midfield lynchpin Lucas Leiva in the event of an injury.
Charlie Adam could do a better job on the left hand side of midfield than Meierles, should he arrive and that’s not counting another new left-sided player that the club should be bring before the start of the new season.
On the opposite side the seemingly indestructible Dirk Kuyt is very consistent and rarely injured, let alone for prolonged periods.
At 28 years of age, he doesn’t fit in with Fenway Sports Group’s philosophy on forming a youthful team either.
The previous owners signed Meireles on a low wage deal with a view to reviewing it at the end of the season. FSG don’t look as if they are prepared to do that, which would increase the clubs already over-inflated wage bill at a time when a clear-out is and financial reconstruction is on the cards.
Had the bloated wage bill not been such a problem due to under-performing, high-earning players you could almost certainly assume that the prospect of Meireles leaving would not be being discussed.
Squad depth has been a problem at Liverpool for a number of seasons but this summer should see specialised players coming into problem positions. Where as in pervious years one player was signed with the added bonus he could play in a number of areas.
Midfield sadly for Meireles isn’t one of those areas with the club well stocked and primed for the future with a promising youth set-up pushing for places in the first team.
Raul Meireles is a fine player and worthy of a place in the Liverpool squad, however it seem his is as the title suggests, he is a victim of his own versatility.
‘A jack of all trades and a master of none’ may sound harsh but it perfectly illustrates the point being made here.
If he goes, it will be under the blessings of Kenny Dalglish not by pressure from the owners as a few have stated over recent days.
Should he stay then all the better; whatever contribution he makes in the future will be eternally appreciated by an adoring Kop regardless of squad status.
Brian Irvine (@btirvine)