Despite the immediate and consistent understanding that Leicester City are not interested in selling Danny Drinkwater, reports of meaningful Chelsea interest in him continue rolling in. Here’s the latest, from Goal’s Chelsea correspondent, Nizaar Kinsella.
Chelsea's interest in Danny Drinkwater is real and serious. It will be hard to convince Leicester though #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) August 2, 2017
Unlike Drinkwater’s temmate Riyad Mahrez, who’s publicly stated that he wants to join a top six team this summer and is just waiting for someone to make a good enough offer, Drinkwater has shown no outward signs of wanting to leave and thus Leicester City, who are no doubt looking to finish better than last year’s 12th (the worst title defence in Premier League history), have no interest in selling.
Sure, money talks. But so does opportunity and playing time and while Drinkwater might make sense as a fourth midfielder for Chelsea, fourth midfielder for Chelsea may not make sense for Drinkwater himself. Spending the money required to prize him away from Leicester City would also not make sense for a fourth midfielder, just as it wouldn’t make sense to spend £50m on Ross Barkley.
As Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino alluded to recently — in comments that were played up for the Morata angle, but were much more meaningful beyond any such pettiness — buying squad players is actually really tough these days.
“When you play in the Premier League and Champions League, you need quality and numbers. To create a winning team and try to win trophies, you need to feel the pressure.
"It is like the chicken or the egg. We understand that Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, [Eric] Dier, [Toby] Alderweireld are really good players. They want to win, like us. But they need to feel the pressure to improve in every season.
"If I'm Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Eriksen, if there's no competition behind, it's normal to drop your motivation, it's normal to drop everything that you do. If some players arrive with different energy then it's, 'OK, come on, we need to push, we need to run, we need to do the same.'
"These type of player we are talking about are not easy to find. Morata talked about myself in the media he said, 'Mauricio called me.' That was from the beginning, two years ago. He said to me, 'Why do you want me if you have Harry Kane?'
"You know, if you go to try to sign a striker, they will say, 'Eh, gaffer, you want me for what? To be on the bench? Because I can't compete with Harry Kane.' It's the same with Hugo Lloris or different players. Then it's so difficult to convince good players to come and then be on the bench."
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: ESPN
We want good players on the bench, but good players don’t want to be on the bench. Most professionals will of course back themselves, if push comes to shove, for winning a place in the starting eleven, but that’s not always entirely within their control.
Chelsea need players like Drinkwater or whoever of proven top level quality to push the current squad. But everybody’s got money these days and while players like to win trophies, they usually like to play even more. So given a choice between, say, playing backup to Kanté, Fàbregas, and Bakayoko, or being a much more important player in Leicester City’s midfield, which one is Drinkwater likely to choose? Which one is Nathaniel Chalobah likely to choose? Which one is Nemanja Matić likely to choose?
Probably not Chelsea. Obviously we can try to convince players to see the error of their ways and come hang out with Conte & Co instead, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in Drinkwater’s case and without that pressure, Leicester have no incentive to sell. So Chelsea can be interested all we want; little good that’s likely to do for us.