The Antonio Conte era at Chelsea brought with it some fantastic memories. The passionate Italian’s two years in west London were so memorable that he’s effectively cemented himself as one of the best and most lovable characters in the club’s recent history. He’s become so popular around west London that not even taking the Tottenham job can turn the Blues faithful against him. While Conte is best known for the good times — such as winning the 2016/17 title in emphatic fashion during his debut season — there were certainly dark periods, as well.
The Chelsea hierarchy learned quickly what made Conte so difficult. He demanded excellence from all of those around him, including his bosses and equals. The former Italian National Team coach required a hefty investment in the transfer market as he identified some of the world best as potential prospects for his side. Unfortunately for those involved, Conte was not always given the backing he required. This led to the club investing in second or third-choice replacements for the players the manager asked for at the time, leaving the Blues with some deadwood down the line. For all of the good Conte did during his time in SW6, his impact is still being felt for some of the wrong reasons. Luckily for Chelsea, time is known to heal all wounds.
Chelsea flop Danny Drinkwater departs the club after five underwhelming years
As the Blues continue to back current boss Thomas Tuchel, they are beginning to weed out the squad and mold it to the German’s desires. This means out with the old and in with the new. One of Chelsea’s notoriously bad transfers has finally finished his five years of service, according to his latest Instagram post. Danny Drinkwater is now a free man after his contract has run its course.
Drinkwater came to the Bridge as a £ 35 million signing from Leicester City in 2017. The hope was that he could recreate the magical midfield partnership he had with N’Golo Kante at the King Power Stadium with his new club. The Blues were seemingly throwing [redacted] at the wall to see what would stick after selling Nemanja Matic and missing with the Tiemoue Bakayoko experiment. Conte needed someone to place in the middle of the park alongside Kante after Cesc Fabregas’ form fell off a metaphorical cliff and Bakayoko struggled to adapt to the English game. Drinkwater was simply the next man up in a laundry list of names.
Hindsight tells us that the move for the now-32-year-old was ill-advised and nothing more than a pricey panic purchase. It’ll go down as one of the worst deals in English football history considering the Blues paid a £ 35 million transfer fee plus over £ 100,000 per week for five years (the loan wage splits aren’t made public) just for Drinkwater to play 1,181 minutes for the first team. Suffice it to say, this has been a period that both parties will want to forget.
Luckily for the player, he enjoyed the most successful of his four loans this year. Drinkwater spent the season with Reading in the Championship where he helped the Royals escape relegation in England’s second division. The midfielder only chipped in with one goal, but he was a regular starter over the course of the campaign, managing 31 starts (2,817 minutes) in 33 games. This will hopefully give him a bit of momentum as he begins the search for his next club.
Drinkwater’s departure marks the end of a depressing era at Chelsea. He now joins Charly Musonda as two of the first senior, non-first team regulars out of the door this summer. It’s expected to be a busy few months for new owner Todd Boehly, Marina Granovskaia and Tuchel as they begin to construct a team built for sustained success. Getting players like Drinkwater off the wage bill will help in the long run as it also serves to thin out the large squad.
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