RAUL MEIRELES isn’t short of admirers at Anfield. The Portugal international enjoyed a solid first season after his £11.5million switch from Porto and at the end of it walked away with the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award.
He gave supporters some moments to cherish. There was a crucial strike in the derby at Anfield, a stunning goal of the season contender at Wolves and a priceless winner at Stamford Bridge.
However, his future with the Reds is now shrouded in doubt.
Inter Milan and Juventus have both been linked with the 28-year-old and the feeling is if the price is right Liverpool will be willing to do business.
Some fans are perplexed why Kenny Dalglish would be willing to let Meireles go but scratch beneath the surface and the evidence is compelling.
Meireles’ goals earned him rave reviews last season but all five of them came in the space of six games between mid-January and mid-February.
He’s neat and tidy but in truth what are his greatest strengths? He’s not blessed with great pace, he’s not in the Xabi Alonso mould of pass masters and he’s been found wanting in physical showdowns.
Meireles was the only one of Roy Hodgson’s signings to offer any kind of worthwhile contribution and can hardly be deemed a failure.
But Liverpool are moving onwards and upwards under Dalglish and it’s difficult to see where he will fit into the midfield next season.
Dalglish already has Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing, Jordan Henderson, Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt vying for places.
Then there’s Charlie Adam, who is set to sign from Blackpool, and the manager remains hopeful of securing Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing.
Meireles certainly wouldn’t play centrally ahead of Gerrard, Lucas or Adam.
Jonjo Shelvey could go out on loan, while fellow midfielders Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Alberto Aquilani and Christian Poulsen are all surplus to requirements.
Selling them will be easier said than done but Meireles won’t be tough to flog.
At 28, he still has much to offer and Liverpool should at least get back what they paid for him 12 months ago.
Those funds could then be used to secure players with the qualities Liverpool are currently lacking.
Selling Meireles would be ruthless and tough on a player who is still coming to terms with the demands of the Premier League. But Dalglish has proved already he won’t shy away from making tough decisions in his bid to put Liverpool back where they belong.