Drinkwater’s Villa Park career appears to be in tatters but Aston Villa favourite Paul Merson believes Danny Drinkwater can resurrect his career, saying: “He just needs to find the right home.”
Paul Merson said “There’s a real player to be had if someone has the time and patience to put Danny Drinkwater’s career back on track. Among the rescue dogs trudging around in the Premier League’s lonely streets there’s a true pedigree who just needs to find the right home. And before Chelsea, Burnley and Aston Villa fans start questioning my judgement, I’ll tell you exactly why Danny could be a really good punt for someone. I’m not disputing his career looks like the wheels have come off right now but it would be a real shame if he just slipped off the scene with people questioning just how good he was. It’s not even three years ago that Chelsea forked out £35m for him on the basis that he was one of the very best midfielders around. He’s only 30 now but through a collection of circumstances – and, make no mistake, some of them of his own doing – everything seems to have gone a bit pear-shaped. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Chelsea was probably the wrong move for him because he ended up not playing and then tried to get things back on track with a loan move to Burnley. That didn’t work out for him and just before the season ground to a halt he was having a really tough time of things on loan at Aston Villa. I saw him playing for Villa in the 6-1 home drubbing by Manchester City and he was having a nightmare, but there was something I noticed which is the mark of a player for me. He kept going and he kept asking for the ball. He didn’t hide even though his fitness levels clearly weren’t there. He kept asking for the ball. He’s what I call a brave footballer. Obviously there’s no telling where his head is right now but a lot of that will just be frustration. He might just have taken his eye off the ball too, but that can happen to the best of them when you are training but not getting a game. There’s no worse feeling in the world as a footballer when you are training knowing you won’t be playing. He went to Burnley to try and re-establish himself and that’s not an easy place either simply because Sean Dyche is a very loyal man. It’s harder to get in at Burnley than stay in because that’s the way Sean goes about his business. Next stop Villa Park – a big crowd with very passionate supporters. If they get on your back, you’re in trouble. They can ruin you. Listen, it’s not all everybody else’s fault and Danny has to take a big share of the responsibility for where he finds himself on his own shoulders. But, there’s a player there for absolute sure. His confidence has taken a dent but he’s not a lost cause and let’s hope that with a bit of love and understanding we can once again see him splaying those 40-yard passes that earned him an England call-up.”
The on-loan Aston Villa midfielder endured a difficult spell after arriving on an initial five-month deal from Chelsea. Drinkwater, 30, made four starts including being handed his debut in the 6-1 hammering against Manchester City at Villa Park. The Premier League winner was signed to replace the injured John McGinn – but his impact was minimal as he struggled for match-fitness. Prior to the pandemic break, Drinkwater was involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Jota, resulting in head coach Dean Smith ordering the player home.
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