Premier League champion Danny Drinkwater (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d type a few years ago) is the centre of transfer chatter this summer. With Leicester reinforcing the spine of their side, the England international has been murmured to be leaving the King Power Stadium.
Wilfried Ndidi and Vicente Iborra will likely form the midfield partnership for the Foxes this season, making Drinkwater a viable transfer target for other Premier League clubs. With Riyad Mahrez forcing a move and Robert Huth and Wes Morgan replaced too, the heroic Leicester champions of 2015/16 are no longer.
N'Golo Kante Reunion On The Cards?
The most probable move for Drinkwater this summer would see him join up with former Leicester teammate N’golo Kante at Chelsea. At odds of 6/4, the market clearly gives this a good chance of happening.
Antonio Conte’s reigning champions are desperately short of players as opening day approaches and could do with the bolstering of their homegrown quota, too.
With Lewis Baker set to leave the club on yet another loan, Ruben Loftus-Cheek at Crystal Palace for the season, Nathan Ake sold to Bournemouth and Nathaniel Chalobah finally moved on permanently to Watford, Chelsea have relinquished players who could have provided depth this season. Not to mention that each of the aforementioned quartet were trained at the club.
Drinkwater is far from the glamour acquisition that Chelsea fans lust after, but the Leicester man looks increasingly like a needs-must addition. While the two Manchester clubs are splashing cash dramatically, Chelsea’s reluctance to do so has left them in the lurch. A lurch that requires depth additions and homegrown players, and Drinkwater is one of a small group who fits those criteria.
North London Another Potential Landing Spot
Arsenal are the only other realistic contenders for Drinkwater at 10/1. The Gunners have signed only two players this summer, and must have their own concerns about central midfield depth given the suspension issues for Granit Xhaka and flaky fitness of Aaron Ramsey.
Arsene Wenger’s shrewdly operating Gunners will not be entering into a bidding war for their London rivals, but a late move for Drinkwater should not be written off, especially if Xhaka, Ramsey or Mohamed Elneny are ruled out for a long period.
Ultimately, Drinkwater is most likely to stay at Leicester at 2/5. His loyalty to the club who have taken him from Championship also-ran to England international cannot be understated, and the arrival of Iborra will give Craig Shakespeare tactical flexibility rather than assign Drinkwater to a bench role.
It could yet become a long-running saga. It could, too, be a lot of smoke without fire. Rumours may reappear of a Chelsea move if the Blues make no other additions, but the potential fee could well put off the increasingly frugal champions. He might be a favourite of Conte, but he also wanted to keep Nemanja Matic…