Saturday 10 December 2016

Bellamy in Kop return as Chelsea swoop for Meireles

Rory Smith

Published 01/09/2011 | 05:00

Kenny Dalglish completed his radical overhaul of Liverpool's squad last night by re-signing Craig Bellamy four years after the striker left the club, off-loading Joe Cole to Lille for the season and selling Raul Meireles to Chelsea.

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Wales international Bellamy became Dalglish's seventh signing of a summer during which the Scot has spent around £56m to revitalise his side. Bellamy was granted a free transfer by Manchester City and underwent a stringent medical.

The 32-year-old has been plagued by knee trouble throughout his career and Liverpool -- the side he left after just a season in 2007 -- were sufficiently concerned to delay part of his examination until 9.0 last night to give him an MRI scan.

Discussions over personal terms were made easier by City's agreement to settle the final year of the player's contract, worth around £95,000 a week.

Bellamy was prepared to wait out the final year of that deal, worth £4.6m, if his compensation was not paid in full, but he is believed to have agreed to a reduction to force through a return to Anfield, and he will now wear the No 39 jersey.

He had been linked with QPR and Stoke amid the deadline day chaos, but his first choice was always Liverpool, where Dalglish sees him primarily as cover for his first-choice strike-force Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Bellamy will find an Anfield transformed after a remarkable personnel revamp. Dalglish and his director of football Damien Comolli have let 18 players leave this summer, saving £30m in wages, as well as bringing in around £10m in transfer fees.

The exodus was completed yesterday when David Ngog agreed to a £4m move to Bolton, Philipp Degen was released from his contract and Christian Poulsen signed for newly promoted French side Evian on a one-year deal, as well as Cole moving to Lille on loan.

Liverpool will still contribute about half of Cole's £80,000-a-week wages, but, while Dalglish has been effusive in his praise of the former Chelsea player's attitude, the Scot will be relieved to remove such a high-profile player from the fringes at Anfield.

The big surprise, however, came late last night when Meireles announced that he had handed in a transfer request.

Meireles was named the PFA Fans' Player of the Year after an impressive maiden season at Anfield last term, but appears to have been deemed surplus to requirements by Dalglish.

The 28-year-old briefly worked with Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas at Porto last summer and became a target for the Blues after they became frustrated in their attempts to land Modric, who Tottenham yesterday revealed they had turned down a bid of £40m.

Liverpool were reluctant to sell Meireles to a rival, rejecting a reported £8m offer from Chelsea, apparently holding out for closer to £11m. The player has joined on a four-year deal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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