Raul Meireles and Why He Will Be the Perfect Fit for Chelsea FC
What a long couple of days it has been. From Arsene Wenger's sudden wheeling and dealing, to soap operas involving characters, Wesley Sneijder and Gary Cahill ending the same way that they had started.
This transfer window was a roller coaster of a ride that had quite a hectic ending to it.
With the spotlight on Arsenal after the 8-2 thrashing that they received at the hands of Manchester United, it was only natural for all of us to be sucked into all of Arsenal's potential and actual transfers.
As we all had our eyes set on North London, there were other teams that dared fight against time as they scrambled for last-minute transfer deals. One such team was Chelsea FC.
You can't help but think that Andre Villas-Boas is finally allowing himself to breathe a little deeper. With a couple of victories under his belt, and his prized transfer target, Juan Mata, scoring in his debut match, everyone begins to forget about a certain unimpressive scoreless draw to Stoke City.
We now slowly begin to see glimpses of how Villas-Boas is bringing a cultural change to Chelsea; one such change is the 12 million Euro addition of Raul Meireles. A somewhat in-the-dark transfer that seems to get little, if any recognition, will surely bring great and immediate dividends to Chelsea.
It is pretty clear as to why Villas-Boas was brought in to be the Chelsea coach, and that is to try to emulate the free flowing football that he so brilliantly orchestrated with FC Porto.
However, as he soon found out, that was going to be a problem. He inherited the same stagnant midfield that carried Carlo Ancelotti all the way to the unemployment line, and if no major changes were to be done, then patience was sure to wear thin on this young manager.
Since then, Juan Mata has been brought in, and now Raul Meireles, but why him? Why would Chelsea even dare think about signing this Liverpool outcast?
Well, quite a bit of reasons, really. Before his Liverpool days, he was an FC Porto standout. He is already well familiar with Villas-Boas and his football style, there will be no courting period or learning curve.
Meireles comes in ready to play, under his old coach with well-known tactics. Not to mention that he already has playing time with Fernando Torres.
But who exactly is Raul Meireles? With Porto, he played as a true central midfielder, being the engine that ran from box to box in that free-flowing 4-3-3 system, which just so happens to be Chelsea's preferred formation.
With Liverpool, however, he enjoyed playing a more attacking role, this came to be somewhat of a revelation, as he showed his ability in the final third. I think every Chelsea fan need to look no further than the last time Meireles came to Stamford Bridge as evidence.
Taking a look at Chelsea's last match, with their usual 4-3-3 formation, the midfield consisted of John Obi Mikel, Lampard, and Ramires. It's clear that Mikel is in no danger of losing his starting post, doing an admirable job as the holding midfielder.
Meireles is not known for having defensive shackles. Take a look at the 2010 World Cup Portugal squad for example, that had Pepe playing as a holding midfielder rather than having Meireles playing a deeper midfield position.
That leaves Lampard and Ramires, but I don't think anyone can even fathom leaving a healthy Frank Lampard on the bench as long as he wears Chelsea blue. And then there was one.
Ramires seems to have gotten some support lately, as he seems to finally be fitting into his Chelsea jersey. But is Meireles really an upgrade from Ramires? Yes, he most definitely is.
Ramires is a good player, that we can all agree on, but not good enough to be a Chelsea starter. Ramires is labeled as engine player, and fans adore his hustle, but that's about it.
It's not very often one sees Ramires trying to break a defense with a special pass or a moment of magic, he just seems to be a reliable midfielder. Meireles can be that engine as well, and do it just as efficiently; he has shown he is well capable of it from his days at FC Porto.
He also brings that missing attacking element that Ramires simply lacks. Meireles can be both an engine and a player with some creativity in a midfield that desperately needs some spark.
The long time courting of Luka Modric may have fallen through for Chelsea, but this second choice addition of Meireles will surely bring more than meets the eye.
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