Danny Drinkwater became a Chelsea player on transfer deadline day, August 2017, completing a move from Leicester City and signing a five-year contract.
The 27-year-old midfielder was our sixth senior signing of that summer following the arrivals of Willy Caballero, Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta.
A tenacious midfielder who can make an impact on a game at either end of the pitch, Drinkwater was reunited with N'Golo Kante at Stamford Bridge. The pair forged a profitable partnership in Leicester's incredible title-winning campaign of 2015/16.
A product of Manchester United's academy, Drinkwater enjoyed successful loan spells with Huddersfield, Cardiff, Watford and Barnsley before joining then-Championship side Leicester in 2012.
He was a key figure and named in the PFA Championship Team of the Season in 2013/14 as the Foxes returned to the top flight, and remained an important player as they retained that status with a stunning late run in 2014/15.
However, it was in the next campaign that he really made his name, under the guidance of former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri. He appeared 35 times in a league season nobody could have predicted, with one of his two goals coming from long range against Chelsea in a 1-1 draw on the final day of the campaign. He also made his England debut that March in a match against the Netherlands.
It was Eden Hazard's famous equaliser for the Blues against Tottenham that confirmed Leicester's title success, and though disappointment was to follow after missing the cut for Roy Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad, it had been a year to remember for Drinkwater.
Kante's departure that summer was always going to affect Leicester's defence of the title and the team struggled to maintain their form. Drinkwater remained an integral part of the side that eventually finished 12th in the table in 2016/17, making 29 league appearances as well as helping them to the Champions League quarter-finals, a competition in which he played 10 times. He also scored Leicester's Goal of the Season with a sweetly struck half-volley against Liverpool.
A calf injury delayed Drinkwater’s Chelsea debut which came when he started a Carabao Cup win against Everton in late October.
A run of substitute appearances followed although he did start in a draw at Anfield and a good win over Everton, and in our final game of 2017, he scored with a memorable long-range strike in a 5-0 win against Stoke, his maiden Chelsea goal.
The second half of his season was also affected by injury. He came on as a sub in the home game against Barcelona and then completed back-to-back away matches in Manchester, but they were to prove his final appearances of 2017/18.
In January 2020 it was announced he would spend the rest of the season on loan at Aston Villa. However the midfielder was limited to just four outings in the Midlands, as Villa retained their Premier League status on a dramatic final day when a 1-1 draw with West Ham was enough for a 17th place finish.
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