Chelsea's three-month pursuit of Tottenham midfielder Modric ended in failure yesterday as the west London outfit failed to sign the Croatian despite a reported £40million bid for the player just before the transfer window shut.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas then turned his attention straight to Meireles and the Portugal midfielder moved to the Londoners to be reunited with his former Porto boss within hours of learning of his interest.
Terry has never hidden his admiration for Modric, describing the playmaker as "world class" at the start of the summer when the Blues made their initial £22million offer.
He admits he was surprised to see Meireles join instead of Modric but hopes the former Boavista man will fit in to the squad well and help the club in their aim of winning back the Barclays Premier League title.
"I was surprised (at the signing of Meireles). It was very late," Terry said.
"He is a very good player. I spoke to (Liverpool's) Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll and they stressed how good he was.
"Andre has coached him before. We missed out on the Modric one and he will come in in that very similar role so I'm very excited about what's happening at Chelsea with the players we have brought in."
Meireles joins Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Oriol Romeu as the major signings at Stamford Bridge this summer.
One person who left the club yesterday was Yossi Benayoun, who has joined Arsenal on a season-long loan.
The Israeli missed six months of last season with an Achilles injury and Terry is upset to see him go.
"I was very sad," said the Chelsea skipper, who was speaking at a press conference in Sofia ahead of England's game in Bulgaria.
"I didn't realise how good he was until I trained with him day in day out.
"With the injury he picked up last year, he was quite unfortunate really because I felt as though he had a lot to give to the Chelsea side this year.
"Unfortunately he has gone on loan. We all wish him well.
"Hopefully he can get the run of games he deserves."
While much of the focus so far this season has been on the development of Manchester United's exciting crop of new young players, Terry thinks Chelsea should be proud of their developing English contingent too.
Josh McEachran and Daniel Sturridge, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton, have both been tipped as future England internationals and Terry is sure they will develop into top players.
"Daniel Sturridge has benefited from going on loan and playing week in week out an awful lot," Terry added.
"He has come back and shown great form this season. He has been unfortunate with being suspended for the first three games because I think he would have been the first name down on the Chelsea teamsheet.
"We have Josh McEachran as well. We haven't let him out on loan because he has a big part to play for us this year too. Hopefully he will come through."
Sturridge, meanwhile, hopes he can repay Villas-Boas for keeping faith with him.
The acquisition of Lukaku and Mata this summer takes the number of forward players capable of playing in Chelsea's front three to eight.
That had led to suggestions that Sturridge could be farmed out on a temporary basis again this term.
Villas-Boas has opted to keep the 22-year-old at Chelsea though and he is now hoping for a start against Sunderland a week on Saturday.
"He (Villas-Boas) likes me to dribble, to shoot, to try and create goals for the team," Sturridge said in Chelsea magazine.
"Whichever position he chooses for me, I'll play there. I'm a versatile player, and there's definitely more freedom playing wide rather than as a striker."
The Blues had been hoping Meireles, who signed a four-year deal, would be joined at Stamford Bridge by Porto left-back Alvaro Pereira but they were unable to reach an agreement before the 11pm deadline.
They were also unable to offload any of their squad other than in loan deals, with Yossi Benayoun joining Arsenal, Gael Kakuta moving to Bolton and Patrick van Aanholt being farmed out to Wigan.
New signing Ulises Davila also joined Vitesse Arnhem for the season.
Chelsea reportedly had a bid rejected for Meireles yesterday but, having seen numerous mega-money offers rejected for Tottenham's Luka Modric, they appeared to meet Liverpool's asking price.
Meireles was named the PFA Fans' Player of the Year after an impressive maiden season at Anfield last term but was deemed surplus to requirements by Reds boss Kenny Dalglish.
The 28-year-old briefly worked with Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas at Porto, who snubbed their former boss' attempts to bring Pereira with him to Stamford Bridge.
The player was said to have wanted a reunion but one of his representatives suggested the Portuguese champions' refusal to budge on his £26million release clause was a legacy of Villas-Boas' own summer defection.
Villas-Boas revealed last week Chelsea had made a bid for Pereira but that the two parties were miles apart in their valuation of the Uruguay star.
The Blues were also linked with a move for Bayern Munich playmaker Franck Ribery but the German club insisted that no offer had been made.
More worryingly for Chelsea, perhaps, was the lack of any permanent transfers out of the club before the window shut.
Several players had been linked with moves away, including Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka and Alex.
Malouda perhaps summed up the unwillingness of Chelsea's ambitious and highly-paid stars to leave the club.
He told a news conference ahead of France's European Championship qualifier in Albania on Friday: "I've always been clear in my choices. It's going to be very difficult to take me out of my club.
"I've still got two years left on my Chelsea contract. My objective is to extend by one year until the 2014 World Cup.
"That hasn't changed and it won't change tonight."