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A Look At The Career Of Fenerbahce’s New Recruit Raul Meireles

As you are probably aware Chelsea recently sold Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireless for a fee in the region of £8million pounds. The 29 year completed his medical at new club Fenerbahce on Monday, signing a four-year deal in the process.

Raul Meireles started his career at Portuguese side Boavista and was immediately sent out on loan to Desportivo das Aves where he began to make a name for himself. He made his professional debut in 2001 and went on to have a successful two-year loan spell, in the 2003–04 season, he returned to Boavista making his debut for the club against Benfica. In his first season in the  Primeira Liga, Meireles made 29 appearances that season proving his importance and ability earning himself a high-profile move. On the 7th of July 2004, FC Porto announced the signing of Raul Meireles on a five-year contract, Meireles had his most successful time of his career at Porto making 138 appearances winning 3 League titles and 2 Portuguese cups over a six-year spell, which saw him make a move to Premier League club, Liverpool. After Javier Mascherano moved to FC Barcelona, Raul Meireles was seen as a potential replacement for the Argentine, with high expectations placed on his head.

He made his Premier League debut as a substitute, on 12 September 2010 against Birmingham, and four days later he made his full debut in a 4-1 win in Europa League against Steaua Bucureşti. During his first season in England, he emerged as a key figure for Liverpool, being awarded with the 2011 PFA Fans’ Player of the Year, becoming only the second Portuguese to win this accolade. But in 2011, Meireles handed in a transfer request on the last day of the transfer window and earned a move to another Premier League side.

The 29 year-old signed for Chelsea on a four-year contract from Liverpool on Deadline Day, August 2011. The Portuguese made his debut on 10th September against Sunderland in a 2–1 win assisting Daniel Sturridge for the winning goal. He scored his first Chelsea goal during their UEFA Champions League 5–0 victory against Racing Genk, Arguably Meireles scored his most important goal in a Chelsea shirt in the final minutes of the Champions League quarter-final in a 2-1 win against Benfica setting up a semi-final tie with reigning champions Barcelona. Despite rumours that Meireles was unsettled over the ‘unfair’ sacking of Manager Andre-Villas-Boas, he went on to  play a significant role in helping the club to winning the Fa Cup and Champions League.

But with Chelsea’s sudden increase of midfielders in the summer, spending around £80m on the likes of Hazard, Oscar and Marin, Merieles fell further down the pecking order and felt his playing time would be very limited. But as Chelsea sent Michael Essien to Real Madrid and Josh McEachran to Middlesborough, Chelsea are only left with: John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard and Oriol Romeu as the London club’s regular deep-lying midfielders, with many fans questioning their decision to sell the versatile midfielder. Having played more than 60 times for Portugal and his ability to play in several different midfield roles, Meireles added depth to the Chelsea midfield and with only three recognised holding midfielders, if Chelsea suffer a major injury in this area of midfield, Di Matteo will be left with a major dilemma.

But on the other hand the 29 year-old Portuguese international is relishing the chance to play for the 18 times Turkish champions “I can’t wait to get started – Fenerbahce is as big a club as Chelsea, Liverpool and Porto.” Meireles admitted former Liverpool team-mate Dirk Kuyt had an influence on his decision to move to Turkey.”I had a great season playing at Liverpool with Kuyt, He told me about Fenerbahce and encouraged me to make the move. I have friends playing in Turkey.  Kuyt has told be on several occasions that Istanbul is a beautiful city, I’m very excited about the prospect of playing here.”

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