Chelsea’s signing of Danny Drinkwater is sure to go down as one of the most frivolous wastes of transfer fees and wage budget in club history.
He’s not the worst player or even worst midfielder Chelsea have ever signed, nor is he the most overpriced signing in history, but a dozen unmemorable Premier League appearances (5 starts) for £35m in transfer fees and £100k/week in wages is a very, very poor return. Add in the idea that his presence took away minutes and opportunities from the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek (who went out on loan instead) or Nathaniel Chalobah (who left permanently) or any other Academy youngster who could’ve done just as good of a job as he did, and the transfer begins to look even worse.
And it’s a mistake that won’t be easy to undo. Contracts in football are guaranteed and Drinkwater’s signed through 2022. That’s 3.5 more years of guaranteed weekly paychecks of £100,000. Unless he breaches his contract, he doesn’t lose that money. If he shows up for work (i.e. practice) and puts in the minimum required effort at least, it’s easy money.
No wonder he’s reportedly in “no hurry” to leave Chelsea despite making just one appearance since March (and that in the Community Shield, which barely counts), having been left out of the Europa League squad, and even the League Cup match last week.
Drinkwater shouldn’t personally be blamed for this of course. Chelsea offered the contract; he took it. We’d do the same in his situation. He’s been a good professional and he’s been unlucky with injuries as well. But at 28 years of age, no one’s going to pay him these kinds of wages, and few, if any, teams of Chelsea’s quality would take him even on loan. He may or may not truly believe he can still impress Sarri — he’s overcome great odds just to work his way up to the top level of English football, so perhaps we shouldn’t write him off like so many did early in his career — but he “cannot afford to get his next move wrong”, whatever it may be.
According to the report, Drinkwater would only leave in January if the “right move” came along. He’s willing to stay patient and wait until the summer to make any drastic decisions.