When Danny Drinkwater made his England debut on March 29th 2016 he was widely considered to be one of the most influential central midfielders in the country.
He had been a key figure in Leicester City’s remarkable rise to prominence under Claudio Ranieri which would ultimately culminate with the Foxes securing the Premier League title when the campaign concluded in May.
His international call-up was a well-deserved and justified recognition for his outstanding contribution throughout the previous six months.
However, fast forward to the present day and Drinkwater has become the forgotten man of English football.
The 28-year-old secured a £35 million move to Stamford Bridge in the summer as he aimed to fulfil his ambition of challenging for titles and playing in the Champions League on a consistent basis.
Drinkwater was following in the footsteps of his former central midfield partner N’Golo Kante, who had joined Chelsea the previous summer and had thrived as a key component of Antonio Conte’stitle-winningg side, but the England international has failed to make any impact in West London.
Drinkwater has made only five Premier League starts and has been little more than a bit-part figure at Stamford Bridge in a season in which the club has failed to meet expectations.
His last appearance came over five weeks ago against Manchester City and he has had to be content with a place on the periphery of the team.
Things did not get off to a great start when the 28-year-old suffered a calf injury upon his arrival in the summer which meant that he was side-lined until late October.
He quickly fell down the pecking order with Conte preferring to utilise Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas, while his cause was not aided by a number of niggling injuries.
The result is that Drinkwater has experienced a frustrating season in which he has made minimal impact.
Furthermore, he has completely fallen out of contention for England and faces the prospect of watching the World Cup on the TV rather than participating himself.
This was certainly not what the 28-year-old would have envisaged when he agreed to join Chelsea.
He was joining the champions of England and was expected to re-establish his partnership with Kante as the Blues looked to build on the success of the previous campaign.
However, this season Drinkwater will win no medals or trophies and will be left wondering whether he made the right decision to move to West London.
What the future holds for the central midfielder is unclear.
Conte is expected to depart Stamford Bridge at the end of the season and Drinkwater’s future will be determined by whoever Roman Abramovich selects as the Italian’s successor.
However, a change of manager is no guarantee of an increase in game time and Chelsea are expected to make significant investment in the playing squad over the summer.
It may be that, regardless of who the next manager will be, the 28-year-old needs to make a fresh start elsewhere.
He will certainly not be short of suitors and there is likely to be a considerable list of club’s that would be interested in securing his services.
However, Drinkwater must ensure that he makes a move in the summer that will provide him with regular game time so that he can begin to rebuild his reputation.
Failure to do so will leave the 28-year-old as English football’s forgotten man.