Raul Meireles arrived at Liverpool late in the summer 2010, just in time to catch the start of the new season. After a few ‘pedestrian’ performances early on, he quickly picked up and, by the time Kenny stepped into the Roy Hodgson-sized void, he had hit a particularly strong vain of form and racking up goals and assists seemingly for fun. It was his ability to control matches; dictate a game’s tempo but to also show attacking qualities that most would associate with the clubs’ captain.
Having rounded out a successful first season by being named the PFA Fans Player of the Year, it is particularly disappointing to hear rumblings of a widening divide between the player and club in the past week or so. If rumours are to be believed, Meireles took a fairly sizeable pay-cut, such was his desire to star in the Premier League, with the agreement that, should he have a strong first season, he would be rewarded with a larger contract. Apparently – and again, this has not been officially verified – this promise has not been honoured.
Talk all week has been of how Meireles will likely be moved on in order to make room for – and to no doubt help fund – moves for Stewart Downing and, more likely, Charlie Adam . Without wanting to cast aspersions on either player or their respective abilities, they are simply not in the same class as the Portuguese man and the prospect of losing him either because the club (the board, Comolli, Kenny himself?) reneged on contract promises or simply because he is a saleable asset does not sit well with me at all. Quite simply, last season, it was he and Lucas that kept our side afloat at times; the pair of them gave the team a balance of tenacity and flair that the rest of the squad seemed to be lacking, until we brought in two expensive additions in January.
Should Raul move on from Liverpool, it will be a sad day. It will also hark back to a time not so long ago – under both Houllier and Benitez – when players considered surplus were treated simply as ‘assets’ to raise funds or sell shirts, depending on their status at the club. We have always prided ourselves on being a club with class and, despite having been dragged through the mud in the past couple of years, it felt like we’d manage to retain our reputation, if not completely. Should these rumours prove true though, it’ll be a sad day to see our great club breaking promises to a player that has performed above expectations, simply to make a fast buck and fund further additions to the squad that probably going to be less capable than the man they replace.
Read more of David Tryer’s articles at Live4Liverpool
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