Raul Meireles : Liverpool FC's Very Own The Van Der Vaart Or Better ?
Rafael Van der Vaart, signed for Tottenham under the most dramatic of circumstance.
A deal with Bayern Munich had fallen through a day before the transfer window closed and Spurs pounced at the opportunity, finally signing him in a £8m deal in a deal which had to be specially authorized by the premier league as Spurs failed to complete the paperwork due to technical glitches.
And he made an immediate impact for the Spurs with three goals in the first four matches. He has been one of the more threatening players from the Spurs this season, playing the attacking midfielder role perfectly. He has been able to get into scoring positions perfectly, and his finishing thus far has been impeccable.
With 10 league goals and 7 assists in the league in 19 appearances so far, the Premier League October Player of the Month along with Gareth Bale have been the reasons for the impressive showing of the Spurs this season.
Raul Meireles was signed from Porto for a reasonable £12m, and came with a great reputation. He had spent 6 years with the Portugese giants where he played a major role in their back-to-back league victories.
Although, he looked sharp in the first few games, he was not able to make the impact he was expected to make.
Under Roy Hodgson, he seemed to be unsure of his position on the field, with him playing in positions varying from the center of midfield, to the wings to an attacking midfielder. The defensive tactics of Roy did not seem to suit him and Meireles started looking as another of Roy's signings that did not seem to work.
The turning point came with the dismissal of Roy and the appointment of Kenny Dalglish.
With an evident aggressive approach coming to the Liverpool team with Dalglish, his appointment also seemed to infuse a new life into all the players.
Gerrard had been suspended for the first three matches under Dalglish, and hence Meireles became the first choice to play in the hole behind the striker, with Lucas and Poulson taking care of the center of midfield.
With his preferred role provided to him, he started looking like a different player altogether, with marauding runs inside the penalty box, providing defense-splitting passes, and tracking back when required.
When Gerrard returned, everyone was guessing which would be the positions that Gerrard and Meireles would play in. Kenny decided to let Gerrard control the center of the midfield, and allowed Meireles to play freely up front, providing him more freedom to create those chances for the team, and converting then when necessary.
With the kind of form one has seen him over the last month, everyone agrees that Kenny made the right choice with the positions of the players.
With four goals in the last five games (and his role in the own goal by Pantsil), one cannot help but compare his impact on the Liverpool team with the impact that Van der Vaart had made on the Spurs.
However, with his fitness and the ability to provide that defensive comfort as well, he might just turn out to be better than Van der Vaart. Though, only time will tell whether that turns out to be true or not.
Liverpool fans would be hoping that Meireles is able to maintain his great form over a longer period.
Though Meireles, in his current role is very different from the role that Xabi Alonso played in the team, his success would lead the fans to believe that the quality of midfield might slowly be getting back to the days when Xabi, Mascherano, and Gerrard used to dominate the midfield for Liverpool.
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