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Monday, September 3, 2012
ESPNsoccernet: September 4, 4:00 PM UK
Fenerbahce sign Raul Meireles

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Fenerbahce on Monday completed the signing of Raul Meireles from Chelsea on a four-year deal.

"I can't wait to get started -- Fenerbahce is as big a club as Chelsea, Liverpool and Porto," Meireles told FB TV on Tuesday, revealing former Anfield teammate Dirk Kuyt had played a part in the pair being reunited in Turkey.

"I had a great season playing at Liverpool with Kuyt. He told me about Fenerbahce and encouraged me to make the move, Meireles said. "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."

Fenerbahce was able to buy the 29-year-old outside the British transfer window because their own country's transfer period does not close until midnight on Wednesday.

Meireles only moved to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool for a reported 12 million pounds ($19 million) on transfer deadline day last year.

Since then, the Portugal international has struggled to hit top form and has been in and out of the starting lineup, especially after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as manager in March.

He started 37 games for the Blues last season.

Meireles was reportedly unhappy with the departure of his former boss at Porto and was immediately linked with a move away. There have been reports in the past week that Fenerbahce were preparing an 8 million pound ($12.7 million) bid for him.

Letting the all-action Meireles go is a risky strategy by Chelsea, whose midfield was completely overrun by Atletico Madrid in Friday night's UEFA Super Cup debacle.

That evening saw them allow Michael Essien to join Real Madrid on a season-long loan, and with Josh McEachran also out on loan, they are arguably short of cover for John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard in the anchorman positions.

Meireles departure could see Ramires, who Chelsea successfully reinvented as an attacking midfielder, return to a more defensive role.

Losing Meireles also deprives Fernando Torres of the former Liverpool teammate that was brought to the club to help get him firing. That did not work but the arrival of Eden Hazard appears to have had the desired effect, with the Spaniard scoring three times in his first five games this season.

Torres, who last week declared he was a better player and person for his nightmare first 18 months at Stamford Bridge, is now hopeful of beating his tally of 33 goals from his first season at Anfield.

He told the latest Chelsea Magazine: "Now I am looking for new personal targets, which is to get as many goals as possible and, hopefully, I will score more than I did in my best season at Liverpool.

"We have the squad to do that and we have five more trophies to play for, so it could be a magic season."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.




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