Like most Liverpool supporters I would prefer it if Raul Meireles stayed at the club, so I was more than pleased when a swap involving Yossi Benayoun and a piffling £8m was dismissed out of hand yesterday. Benayoun might have an affectionate place in the hearts of some Liverpool fans, and while I have no axe to grind, I do remember far more occasions when Berkovic Mk ll tried to take on one man too many rather than hit any defence splitting passes.
I like Meireles, and not just because he looks like the knicker loosening frontman of an American punk band. As shown with his introduction against Arsenal, he is free from the constraints of the modern midfielder and his ability to move seamlessly into dangerous areas while always being available in space to support Suarez or promote triangular attacking movements adds an extra dimension to the football Liverpool play.
That said, rumours of his departure have abounded all summer, with most stories pointing to an improved contract offered by the previous regime (them again) which has since been removed. I can’t imagine Kenny doesn’t fancy him as a player, yet after shelling out on the rapidly improving Henderson and also Charlie ‘all I want for Christmas is a decent set of teeth’ Adam, he has placed himself under a certain amount of pressure as to their inclusion and justification of the fees paid.
Tactically and positionally flexible, he can play across a front three and would fit seamlessly into any system that Kenny decides to play.
So when this morning I was confronted with the news that Liverpool will only accept Daniel Sturridge as part of the deal I thoughtfully sipped my tea and decided that, should Raul have to take his tattoos and Mohican south, then this is the only deal that makes sense to Liverpool. The club has a surfeit of central midfielders and have bolstered the defence with the signing of Uruguayan colossus Sebastian Coates, so the only place we look a little short is up front.
Sturridge is a fine player. He showed while on loan at Bolton last year that he is more than ready for a starting position in the Premier League and without him Bolton have looked a much poorer team. Tactically and positionally flexible, he can play across a front three and would fit seamlessly into any system that Kenny decides to play.
At 21 he more than fits the brief of being young, talented and English and is champing at the bit to make the step up from being a promising youngster and U-21 international to a regular component of a winning team and member of the full England squad for Euro 2012.
Manchester United’s early form, with Cleverly and Welbeck to the fore, has shown the benefits of integrating young players who have been out on loan, and Jack Wilshere is another recent example of how well this system works. So with all of that in mind, I’ll be sad to see Meireles leaves if it happens, but would be more than happy with a straight swap for a player who can not only bring balance to the squad but push Carroll and Kuyt for a starting berth alongside El Pistolero.
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