Where are they now? – Raul Meireles

It’s fair to say that Roy Hodgson’s transfer market record during his fleeting tenure as Liverpool manager left a lot to be desired. The ex-Fulham boss deemed Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic, and Paul Konchesky to be of a good enough standard to wear the famous red shirt, but the trio would go down in folklore as the epitome of one of the most difficult periods in the club’s modern history.

Hodgson did manage to pull off one rather astute signing, though, in Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles. Then in the peak of his career at 27, and on the back of an impressive showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he arrived from Porto for a reasonable fee of £11.5 million and his first five months at Anfield were solid if unspectacular. In the context of a wretched season for the Reds, he didn’t have to be outstanding to be one of the team’s best performers, as several teammates (including those mentioned in the opening paragraph) put in their candidacy for inclusion in many a ‘worst Liverpool XI’.

Meireles’ time at Liverpool is best remembered for a sudden scoring spurt in the opening weeks of 2011, by which stage the board had lost patience with hapless Hodgson and installed Kop favourite Kenny Dalglish as manager. He netted in the Merseyside derby and followed that up with a sumptuous volley in a 3-0 win at Wolves. His most famous goal, though, is undoubtedly the one which secured victory away at Chelsea, in what was Fernando Torres’ debut for the Blues, just six days after a controversial move from Liverpool.

Meireles’ Anfield career would end rather suddenly, though, at the beginning of the 2011/12 season when he submitted a transfer request on deadline day and ended up following Torres to Chelsea, where he was keen to link up with fellow countryman Andre Villas-Boas, the Blues’ new manager. His time at Stamford Bridge ran along similar lines to his spell with Liverpool – only one year, but one in which he earned favourable reviews from supporters and plundered the occasional vital goal. Sadly for him, he was suspended for Chelsea’s Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich.

In autumn 2012, Meireles moved to Fenerbahce, where he remained for four seasons but never made the same impact that he managed during his two years in England. He was released by the Turkish club after the 2015/16 season and had been linked with Bournemouth and Rangers on a free transfer, but nothing came of those rumours and he has been without a club for almost a year. Now 34, it is possible that the Portuguese midfielder’s top level career could be over, but while many of his compatriots were far more celebrated (not least those who featured in their Euro 2016 success), Meireles was appreciated by fans of Liverpool and his other clubs.

Now 34, it is possible that the Portuguese midfielder’s top level career could be over, but while many of his compatriots were far more celebrated (not least those who featured in their Euro 2016 success), Meireles was appreciated by fans of Liverpool and his other clubs. Usually, when a player has just one season at Anfield, he is shipped off unceremoniously after failing to convince. In the case of Raul Meireles, he left via the front door having done enough to ensure that, while far from a club icon, his time at Liverpool would be viewed upon with much positivity.