Raul Meireles, a better buy than Luka Modric?

Raul Meireles was snapped up by Chelsea just minutes before the transfer deadline, after the Blues failed in their pursuit of Luka Modric.

The Portuguese international was more than eager to jump ship after feeling let down by Liverpool, who had not offered him an improved contract after he accepted a wage cut to join them. Raul Meireles signed for Chelsea for a snip of the money the Blues were offering for Luka Modric, but is it money well spent?

Raul Meireles was the second Porto call

Raul Meireles has been coached by Andre Villas-Boas before, admittedly only for a month before AVB sold him for £11 million to Liverpool. But the two are now reunited at Stamford Bridge, where Meireles will fill the fabled creative midfielder void in the Villas-Boas blueprint.


Raul Meireles may have been the second port of call after the failed bids for Modric, but he arrives at Chelsea after scoring 5 goals and adding 5 assists in his inaugural Premier League season. The Portuguese international was a third of the price of Luka Modric, but scored more goals and created more assists than the Croatian last season. So, could he actually be a better, more efficient player than the Croatian?

One season, the two sides of Raul Meireles

In the Red of Liverpool, it was very much a tale of two seasons for Raul Meireles. Under the reign of Roy Hodgson, he would play 18 Premier League games and only record one assist. It was under the reign of Kenny Dalglish that would allow Raul to run rampant.

The Portuguese international would record his first Premier League goal in Dalglish’s first game in charge, against old foes Everton, igniting his season. Four more goals would follow in the next four games, including a superb strike against Wolves, to announce that Raul Meireles had arrived in the Premier League.
.

Luka Modric is taking steps back

Luka Modric has been at Spurs for three seasons now. In each campaign he has scored three goals, but it is his declining assist total that is a worry. In his first, and best season, he had 9 helpers. In the next campaign he would only have 4 assists, followed by just 2 last year.

Meireles v Modric

If you take a look at both players’ stats from last season, Luka Modric may have more touches and make more passes, but Raul Meireles does more with the ball:
.

Raul Meireles

(33 matches)

Luka Modric

(32 matches)

Total Touches

2077

2788

Total Passes

1348

2001

Successful Passes

1010

1717

Pass Completion (%)

74%

85%

Completed Crosses

15

5

Through Balls

22

20

Key Passes

61

64

Shots

44

37

Shots on Target

24

16

Goals

5

3

Assists

5

2

.
Raul Meireles took more shots at goal, made more through balls, scored more goals and created more assists than Luka Modric over the course of the last Premier League season. He did all that with 700 less touches of the ball, meaning that he is more efficient when in possession of it.

Luka Modric did have to play slightly deeper than usual after the acquisition of Rafael van der Vaart last season, in order to accommodate the Dutchman in the team. This does make a lot of the work he does not show up in the key areas of the stats sheet, as he is working further down the park, but it doesn’t entirely explain the drop off in assists from 9 in his first season to just 2 last year.

Is Raul Meireles a better buy than Luka Modric?

At just £12 million, Raul Meireles is a better priced deal than the reported £40 million offered for Luka Modric without question. On last year’s stats, it could be argued that Meireles had a better season due to his higher number of goals, assists, shots on target, through balls and completed crosses.

Vital for Villas-Boas’ playmaker role is someone who can make key passes and through balls. Raul Meireles made just 3 key passes less than Luka Modric last season with 700 less touches, but made two more through balls.

Andre Villas-Boas’ system has Chelsea focussed on ball retention, currently they lead the Premier League with 67% possession through three matches. If Meireles does see more of the ball in a side that dominates ownership of it, then he will create more chances and score more goals than Luka Modric due to his better efficiency.

Raul Meireles may not have been Chelsea’s first choice to fill their playmaker void, but with Luka Modric’s decline in production over three seasons, and Meireles having had a season to get used to the Premier League, Raul Meireles could turn out to be the better buy.

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27 Responses to Raul Meireles, a better buy than Luka Modric?

  1. bizarre_blue September 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Interestingly both players had a similar amount of matches to acheive this (32 for Modric, 33 for Meireles) with both players starting the same number of matches. However Meireles was taken off 17 times and Modric only 5. This would suggest that when it comes to playing time, Meireles was far more efficient than Modric in his acheivements!

    • Mark Redford September 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

      That’s a very good point, completely agree. Raul Meireles had 2525 minutes on pitch in the Premier League last season, compared to Luka Modric’s 2794 minutes. So it does emphasize his achievements even more.

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