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Following in the same vein as fellow Iberian Mikel Arteta, Raul Mereiles submitted a belated deadline day transfer request to his former Merseyside employers. His destination, London.
Reports had linked the attacking midfielder to Stamford Bridge in the weeks leading up to deadline day but it always seemed that the Blues were distracted by other targets; namely Luka Modric and Javier Pastore.
The signature of the Portugal international has provided Chelsea with two things they were desperately lacking: midfield creativity and width.
Chelsea’s midfield are excellent ball winners and superb at retaining possession, but they had no one capable of producing passes that will split defences.
Frank Lampard seems to have lost the ability to play a through ball, as all too often the English international has opted to pass the ball horizontally: slowing down any Chelsea defence.
Ramires and Mikel are equally as ineffective. Both players are well equipped holding midfielders, but all too often they run out of ideas when the ball is in the final third of the pitch.
The arrival of Meireles should have a significant impact on Fernando Torres’ goal scoring form. At Liverpool, the Spaniard plied his trade by making menacing, off-ball runs behind the final line of defence, relying upon the service of Steven Gerrard to provide him with goal scoring opportunities.
Meireles can create such opportunities for Torres. In the brief time he spent on the pitch with Luis Suarez at Liverpool this season, the two players looked like a menacing double act. There is nothing to suggest El Nino and the tattooed midfielder cannot form a similar partnership.
The Portugal native is set to make his debut against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, a team who have endured a difficult start to the season.
Meireles will likely find himself trying to outwit Wes Brown and John O’Shea in the centre of Sunderland’s defence, two defenders who were humbled by himself and Dirk Kuyt in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in March.
The physical presence of Chelsea’s midfield should give Meireles more creative freedom in the heart of midfield. He will be able to find the time and space needed to run with the ball and pick defences splitting through balls, so long as the midfield line behind him is solid.
If everything goes to plan, it could be worth placing a cheeky bet that Meireles and Torres link up and score a goal this weekend.