Thursday, 2 September 2010

Is this man Liverpool's answer to their midfield conundrum?

A few days ago Liverpool announced the signing of Raul Meireles, the Portuguese international for a tidy £11.5 million fee. He has been lauded by many football fans as a replacement to previous Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano; but I'm not sure this is entirely the case. Mascherano certainly provided a great service to the club and will be missed because of his energy and enthusiasm to win the ball. However this was his sole job, win the ball, pass it 10 yards and mark a man. This meant he rarely got a chance to make inroads into the opposition penalty area or shoot at goal.

However, cast your mind back to the impressive Xabi Alonso, now showing off his skill in Spain but a former player for the reds. Whilst Alonso had the discipline to hold back and protect the defence like Mascherano did, there was another side to his game. He was a magnificent passer of the ball and, when allowed, he could also shoot from distance and apply pressure to the opposing defence. Liverpool sorely missed this last campaign and attempted to replace the loss with Alberto Aquilani for £20 million pounds, but with repeated injures and loss of form this meant he was often on the bench. His space was filled by Lucas Leiva, who is yet to prove he has what it takes in the Premier League. Alonso's space can now be filled by Meireles, who scored at the World cup for Portugal against North Korea and was an ever present through qualifying and during the tournament. He has the discipline to free up Steven Gerrard allowing him to be more influential going forward in a way Lucas may find hard as he is still learning the game.

I would suggest Meireles would be most effective along side new signing Christian Poulsen who will play the 'Mascherano' role. This would allow Gerrard to support Torres and Joe Cole to be used in a wing position providing some much needed crosses for Fernando Torres and whoever else can get themselves into the box. Overall, there are many benefits to the signing of the central midfielder and he may be a key element in the team if Liverpool are going to turn their fortunes around.

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