‘People think I am a Judas’ – shock PFA award winner insisted he’d always love Liverpool despite forcing exit
On this day quite a while back, Liverpool consented to sign Raul Meireles from Porto in a £11.5million bargain
At the point when another manager comes to a football club, they will constantly be quick to put their own engraving onto the group. Also, that was absolutely the situation at Liverpool in 2010.
With Roy Hodgson supplanting Rafa Benitez in the Anfield hole, another time unfolded at the club. Thus did the sort of player that the Reds would sign.
On this day in 2010, Liverpool affirmed the marking of Raul Meireles. After a £11.5million bargain was hit with Porto, Meireles turned into Hodgson’s fourth marking since assuming responsibility, following the appearances of Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen and Milan Jovanovic.
Meireles was endorsed in the desire for adding another aspect to Liverpool’s midfield in after the flight of Javier Mascherano, who had left for Barcelona that summer. It was a major hole to fill for Liverpool, however the player demanded that he wouldn’t be attracted on correlations with the former Red.
“Roy Hodgson was vital to me coming here since he endeavored to sign me,” Meireles said in the Sunday Express, after getting paperwork done for Liverpool in August 2010.
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“I’m Meireles and not Mascherano and that will be obvious to the fans. I trust one day the Liverpool fans will recollect me for finding success.”
Hodgson realize that it would require investment for Meireles to get comfortable at Anfield. A couple of months into his spell on Merseyside, he was without a goal and question marks were being raised over his effect in the group.
“With Raul Meireles it was always just a question of time,” said Hodgson in December 2010. “He came from a different league, but I never doubted his quality as a player.”
Moving to a new country is always difficult for any player. It was the same for Meireles, but he insisted he was loving life on Merseyside.
“I am enjoying it and like living in the city,” Meireles said in November 2010. “Me and my family have found a nice apartment in a good place and we like to walk around and see the city.
“The people are very friendly and they have made me and my family very welcome. We have been to some great restaurants and it is a good place to live.
“Understanding the likes of Stevie and Carra is very difficult but they speak slowly to me so I can understand them.
“Lucas and Fabio Aurelio speak Portuguese like me and they have both helped me a lot.”
Another side to Meireles’ life was his love of tattoos. While playing for Liverpool, you would often see his inkwork on his arms, and he had this in common with other members of the dressing room.
Other players such as Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger were those who Meireles managed to find tattoos in common with while at Liverpool.
“I think I have more than Martin but first place goes to Daniel Agger, for now,” said Meireles in 2010. “I am going to try and catch him up. We have spoken about tattoos and I always ask them where they got them done.”
Meireles’ only season at Anfield will not be remembered for much in terms of attacking output. He scored just five goals in his 44 appearances for the club, but what may be more remarkable is what happened in the closing stages of the campaign.
Ever since 2001, the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award has become a key indication of which players stand out in the Premier League. Liverpool have had plenty of winners in the past, namely Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Well after his first season in England, and at Liverpool, Meireles was voted as the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award in 2011. This came as a surprise to many, with the likes of Samir Nasri, Dimitar Berbatov, Fernando Torres and David Luiz all up for the award, but were beaten by the Portugal international.
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All of Meireles’ goals came after Kenny Dalglish was appointed in interim charge in January 2011. The Reds legend certainly managed to get the best out of the midfielder, and he was not surprised to see the award go to Meireles.
“Raul has always had the ability he has shown recently,” Dalglish said in 2011.
“Maybe he’s settled down a little bit and is more comfortable and confident because he is playing well but there’s been nothing drastic (tactically) for any of the players.
“It is fantastic to see Raul doing so well. He has always been a talented footballer, he’s always had what we are seeing now.
“But it’s been trying to get it out and it is coming out now and he’s scoring goals.”
One of Meireles’ most memorable moments came against Wolves in January 2011. With Fernando Torres scoring a brace, just days before his move to Chelsea, Meireles was also on the score sheet with a long-range volley at Molineux.
Liverpool won the game 3-0, and Meireles’ strike stunned then Wolves boss Mick McCarthy. “A wonder strike that nobody’s stopping,” said McCarthy, after the game. “You could put two goalkeepers in there and nobody’s stopping it.”
Just a few months after winning his award, though, Meireles was keen to leave Anfield. The summer of 2011 saw the midfielder submit a formal transfer request to depart Liverpool, something the Reds confirmed on their website at the time.
Chelsea were the club interested in his services. Andre Villas Boas was their manager at the time, and had worked with Meireles from the pair’s time in Portugal.
Liverpool had rejected a previous offer from Chelsea of £7m plus Yossi Benayoun for Meireles. Their stance was always one of wanting to keep the player, despite the start to 2011/12 seeing him not be a regular starter.
In the end, a £12m deal was agreed with Chelsea to allow Meireles to leave. It saw Liverpool bank a £500,000 profit on a player they had for just a single season.
After leaving, Meireles pointed the finger of blame for his departure at the Reds, saying he was forced into putting in a formal request to leave and citing broken promises.
He said: “”All I have to say is I had one promise at Liverpool which wasn’t fulfilled.
“Liverpool asked me to hand in a transfer request, that’s normal. I was aware that Liverpool wanted to sell me in the summer, which was a bit surprising to me.
“There’s no point touching this subject any more. I was a bit surprised, but now I’m just concentrating on my present and future, and that’s with Chelsea.”
“These are things that happen in football. I can only say good things about Liverpool. It was a fantastic year,” he added in an interview with Radio e Televisao de Portugal.
“People think I am a Judas and that it was because of the money. It was not because of that. I will explain it later. Things are still fresh.
“I am not the only one to blame for my exit from Liverpool, but I will never stop loving the club and I have great friends there.”
Years after leaving Liverpool, and even his retirement from playing in 2016, Meireles would try be back in the limelight but in a different capacity. In 2019, the former midfielder would appear on ‘Lip Sync Portugal’ to perform Antonio Variacoes’ 1983 song ‘O corpo e que paga’.