This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
When Danny Drinkwater left Leicester to head to Stamford Bridge, it felt like the reunion of one of the Premier League’s most effective midfield duos. The England international joined former Foxes teammate N’Golo Kante in making the journey down to west London and it appeared only to be a matter of time before they would rekindle the kind of successful partnership they had at the King Power Stadium.
Instead, Drinkwater’s move to Chelsea has become nothing short of a nightmare. Since arriving in the summer transfer window in 2017, the midfielder has barely featured for the club. After an underwhelming first season, the 29-year-old was marginalised even more under Maurizio Sarri last year and featured in just the Community Shield against Manchester City.
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It is perhaps one of the strangest cases of a fall from grace for any Premier League winning player. But, following Sarri’s sacking, there appears to be a glimmer of hope. Frank Lampard’s appointment as boss was heralded with reports suggesting that Drinkwater could be handed a shock Stamford Bridge life-line, and he was promptly handed a start in the Blues legend’s first game in charge against Bohemians.
As the club’s prospective transfer ban continues to keep them in a vice-like grip, Drinkwater could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the situation. Indeed, Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s long-term injury has only boosted the chances Drinkwater could figure more prominently and one fellow midfield competitor who could invariably help his cause is Kante himself.
Following the struggles of both Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic last season, Drinkwater and Kante’s experience of the top-flight could be a midfield Lampard opts for. The former Derby boss’ style of play at Pride Park was based on winning the ball back as quickly as possible and counter-attacking with pace. Leicester City circa 2015/16 anybody?
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The duo could form that all-action partnership and provide the heartbeat of Lampard’s Chelsea side as they look to produce more aggressive, fast-paced football compared to the slow, methodical nature of Sarri-ball.
So having come out of the wilderness to play a part in Lampard’s first game, Drinkwater could complete the ultimate comeback story, join forces with Kante once more and recreate a little bit of Foxes magic in west London next season.