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Carrying a £35 million pound transfer fee means there is a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Nobody knows that better than Danny Drinkwater.
After winning the Premier League with Leicester City against all the odds in the 2015/16 season and playing Champions League football the following season, Chelsea stumped up a large fee in a last-minute panic buy for the start of the 17/18 campaign. Handing out a five-year contract worth £100,000-a-week to the then 27-year-old, a shred piece of business by his agent!
Despite an injury keeping him out for the first two months, he made 22 appearances across all competitions in his maiden season for the Blues. His main highlight being a sweetly struck volley in a 5 nil win against Stoke City.
He spoke positively when he signed, saying;
“I’m coming here to play a part in winning trophies which is exactly what I want to do”.
“It’s a massive influence on my choice to come here; as a player there’s nothing better than winning. So what better place to do that than Chelsea?”
This worked out in some way – Chelsea defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup final that year, although Drinkwater did miss out due to injury.
Then, things went a little sour for the midfielder.
After the departure of the manager that signed him – Antonio Conte – in came Maurizio Sarri. The chain-smoking Italian quickly came to the conclusion that Drinkwater was surplus to requirements and told him before the season began. Despite discouraging comments from Sarri, Drinkwater decided to stay but only went on to make one appearance that season in the Community Shield. Chelsea desperately tried to offload him but couldn’t find any suitors to meet his wage demands.
Despite the lack of game time, he was content to sit on the bench and collect his £100,000 paycheck every week. A massive fall from grace for a player who came through the ranks at Manchester United and who two seasons previously was a vital cog in Leicester City’s fairytale title win.
Eventually, Burnley was the team that came in for Drinkwater during the 2019/20 season, but the loan spell was not successful to say the least. He made only one appearance, and an off the field incident – an apparent attack outside a nightclub – meant that Sean Dyche shipped him back to his parent club in January 2020.
Clearly, another loan deal was needed for Drinkwater to get first team opportunities, as they did not seem to be forthcoming under Frank Lampard. Aston Villa came in for him – admittedly, after a trial run in training under Dean Smith, according to reports. We all know what happened next. He made his debut against Manchester City and definitely looked like he hadn’t played in a long time. City won 6-1 at Villa Park.
In hindsight, Dean Smith would probably go back in time and not start Drinkwater for his first ‘big’ game in over two years. However, it was not the confidence booster that he needed. Things have turned even more sour recently, as according to reports, Drinkwater headbutted teammate Jota and was ordered to leave the training ground on March 11.
So where does this leave Danny Drinkwater, the once-promising England midfielder and title winner? Most likely Villa will send the 29-year-old back to Chelsea, where he’ll spend the rest of the season in the reserves with the odd appearance on the bench. Drinkwater will need to make drastic altercations to his off the field lifestyle to have any hope of resurrecting his career. With over two years remaining on his contract, worth £5.2 million per year, Chelsea could yet again find themselves facing the same issue they experienced with the legendary Winston Bogarde a while back.