Danny Drinkwater has decided to retire, being out of the game for more than a season. His last appearance came in a Chamipionship game for Reading vs. West Bromwich on the 30th of April 2022. He has not appeared since, getting released from Chelsea at the end of the 2021/22 season.
When you come to the age of 33 and getting used to life out of the game, looking at other projects and business opportunites, you can soon find out that life is more than football.
The move from Leicester to Chelsea, for a fee of £33million, in the last hours of the summer 2017 transfer window, never really became the move it was supposed to be. Danny Drinkwater, at the time, had been through a struggling season at Leicester, with Claudio Ranieri sacked and league form far from expectations, but still managed to get through to the quarter finals of Champions League.
He had prior to his time at Leicester had an upbringing at Manchester United and been in around the first team squad, but never really managed to convince anyone at Old Trafford he could become what he achieved with Leicester, winning Premier League and getting into the England team, but was surprisingly axed from the Euro 2016 squad.
When he joined Leicester in 2012, Danny Drinkwater had been on a loan journey for three years, playing at Huddersfield, Cardiff, Watford and Barnsley, and showed his qualities, as probably everyone on sight for the Leicester / Barnsley game on the 14th of January 2012, when he really showed everyone with his play for The Tykes, what potential he had. Barnsley won the game 2-1 and five days later Nigel Pearson had decided to buy him and the 21 year old midfielder never looked back.
He found a home and a place to settle and enjoy football as himself and the team progressed together, not always in the first eleven as we could see in the play-off semi-final vs. Watford sitting on the subs bench together with Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane. But still the huge potential was spotted and he gradually cemented a place in the starting eleven.
Danny loved this period at Leicester, first working his way forward under Nigel Pearson and then being so pivotal under Claudio Ranieri, really reaching his peak in that 5000/1 season, being the important player in the set up play of Jamie Vardy and making the midfield area, in partnership with N’Golo Kantè, fantastic to watch as it fitted in the best way possible.
The transfer of N’Golo Kantè to Chelsea, did se him lose his perfect partner, and was impossible for Danny Drinkwater to play as he did when Kantè was around, as the two had build up a perfect understanding and learning fast how to act as the perfect duo. That must have been very frustrating as it not only made the midfield less dynamic, but also stopped a bit of progress for Danny Drinkwater to develope his game further.
Then to lose his manager a few months later, made it difficult to believe in the project as well as seeing other players having better ideas in their head than to play for Leicester. Drinkwater himself probably seeked the thrill of joining up with N’Golo Kantè again and becoming that dynamic duo, but it never worked that way at Chelsea with a bit of different approach from Antonio Conte, in many ways, being so different from Claudio Ranieri and not really having the same mind set on football.
Injuries and of the field incidents made it impossible to keep up with pace at Chelsea as you had a totally different environment with less patience and much pressure, demanding more or less that a Premier League title should not be lost, as the situation probably was very different from expectations at Leicester. The strangest moves came around as he had to join Aston Villa, Burnley and Reading on loan in England, and also having a job done i Turkey with Kasimpasa, not really making any impact at all, and becoming more or less a misfit, though helping Reading to secure their status in Championship.
To see him finished at 33 is a bit of sad, but when you cannot find the correct challenge and no one at the standard you are looking for are interested, then we all have to accept that another major player with a past at Leicester has put his boots on the shelf.
But in some way we do believe we have not seen the last of Danny Drinkwater in and around football, hopefully coming back in some sort of capacity either in coaching, management or as a pundit, let’s wait and see, thanks again for magnificant memories and of course never to be forgotten as a major man in a Leicester team doing the impossible possible.
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