RAUL MEIRELES has insisted he never wanted to leave Liverpool but admitted he jumped at the chance to join Chelsea when it became clear he would be sold.
Meireles completed a reported £12million move from Anfield to Stamford Bridge minutes before the transfer window slammed shut last week, reuniting him with his former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas, the new Chelsea manager.
There were eerie similarities with Fernando Torres’ January transfer between the clubs, with Liverpool having reported in both cases that a transfer request had been submitted.
That is normally read as a sign that a player is trying to force a move but Meireles, who insisted at the weekend that he was no “Judas”, and suggested that all was not quite what it seemed.
The 28-year-old, who joined Liverpool from Porto late on in last summer’s transfer window, said: “When I was in Porto, I knew that I wanted to go and the club wanted to sell me, and I only had to wait for the right choice.
“I made the right choice last year to come to England and to come to Liverpool and this year was different because I knew that I didn’t want to leave Liverpool.
“I felt that the new owners didn’t want to sell me, but when I knew that Chelsea and Andre wanted me, it convinced me.”
Chelsea’s interest in Meireles became apparent towards the end of the transfer window as they began to look like missing out on number one midfield target Luka Modric.
Meireles added: “It was strange, because I knew of the interest of Chelsea, and the interest of the coach, and it was a pleasure to come to this club but it was strange because it was on the last day.
“The people think that I wanted to leave and it is only because Chelsea wanted me. For Andre to want me, that is why I wanted to go.”
Meireles was out of the country on international duty on transfer deadline day, which he ended with the Portugal squad in Cyprus.
And there are no shortage of familiar faces at Stamford Bridge for the midfielder, who worked very briefly under Villas-Boas at Porto and also knows Chelsea’s Portuguese stars Jose Bosingwa, Paulo Ferreira and Hilario, as well as Brazilian duo Ramires and David Luiz.
Meireles said: “I have a lot of friends here, Portuguese players that I know from Porto and the national team, and Jose Bosingwa helped me a lot in these first days.
“I know that Chelsea is a great club, one of the best clubs in the world, and it is not too difficult to convince me to come.
“Paulo and Hilario I know well, and Ramires and David Luiz I know from the Portuguese League, where they did a very good job in Benfica.
“They were very difficult opponents.
“Ramires only played one year in Portugal and that year they won the championship and he is a fantastic footballer.
“David Luiz also was very good. We talk the same language so now it is easy.”
Like Torres, Meireles arrived at Chelsea having proven a thorn in their side down the years.
He scored against them in a Champions League tie at Porto four years ago.
He also helped Liverpool do the double over the Londoners last term, scoring the winner at Stamford Bridge to spoil Torres’ debut following the striker’s £50million move.
“It was a special game because Fernando came to Chelsea and the people in Liverpool wanted to win the game a lot,” Meireles said.
“It was special for me because I wanted to score a goal of course.”