He has played bench warmer to Esteban Cambiasso and Michael Carrick, now it is time for the £35m arrival to show his worth.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte bought the England international in a bid to replenish the depth of the squad after midfielder Nemanja Matić’s £40m switch to Manchester United.
Initially seen as a panic buy, Drinkwater could have the capabilities necessary to help Chelsea retain the Premier League title.
Premier League ready
With Matić having been sold to United a few weeks prior to deadline day, there is an argument that Conte should have been prepared when it came to finding the Serb’s replacement.
In doing so, given his in-depth knowledge of Serie A, Conte could have looked a little closer to home. He probably could have saved Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, money in doing so, such is the inflation when it comes to English talent – especially homegrown players.
However, in Drinkwater, he has a player who is fully accustomed to the Premier League. And one that has already demonstrated the qualities needed to mount a Premier League title challenge.
A perfect fit
His playing style fits the Conte blueprint perfectly.
Drinkwater always looks to play the ball forward at electrifying pace and his relentless work rate would bode well under the Italian.
Playing for a counter-attacking Leicester side, unsurprisingly over half of Drinkwater’s attempted passes went forward (64.2%) at a success rate of 78%.
He has great vision and looks to catch opponents out on the break. He also completed more passes than any other Leicester player last season (1,312).
At 27-years-old, Drinkwater is approaching his prime and Conte has a proven track record when it comes to nurturing midfielders throughout their older years.
Take his multiple terms at Juventus, with players such as Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio, and Andrea Pirlo – all of whom excelled under Conte in their later years.
Does a job
Drinkwater is the type of player you can bring on whether winning or losing and he’ll have a job to do.
While we all know the Manchester United academy product is not the most goal savvy – with only 13 league goals to his name – his ball playing ability more than makes up for it.
He is exactly the calm and composed midfielder you would like to bring on late in a game to close out a winning result.
Having won the title under Italian Claudio Ranieri in 2015/16, Drinkwater definitely has the required intelligence to play for a meticulous Italian manager like Conte.
Old friends reunite
Drinkwater’s arrival sees him reinstate his midfield partnership with N’Golo Kante. The pair orchestrated games for Leicester and accumulated 74 of the 81 points that led to Leicester winning the title in 2016.
In doing so, Drinkwater played his career’s best football. He had the Frenchman to patrol the area his forward thinking led him to vacate and it provided him with further time on the ball to pick out the best passes. Reuniting the duo at Stamford Bridge could well rekindle Drinkwater’s best form.
Drinkwater played in 35 of the 38 league games leading up to the title and, if selected, he could make his debut against his former employers this Saturday.
Although the Englishman isn’t one of the most of illustrious names to grace the Premier League, he could still prove to be important.
With the signing of Vincente Iborra from Sevilla and Wilfred Ndidi already looking like straight swaps for Drinkwater, who can Leicester get in to bolster their midfield? But without Drinkwater, you’ll find Leicester at long odds to finish in the top four – even better odds than you’d get predicting the Championships of Poker winner from the start.
Steven N’Zonzi could be a great investment. Having joined Sevilla in 2015 from Stoke, he was part of the side that won the 2016 UEFA Cup.
He featured 46 times for the La Liga outfit – scoring three goals – and has been constantly linked with a move away following a successful season. His performance in the UEFA Cup Final win over Liverpool was second to none and he has since shown on multiple occasions that he has the ability to dictate games.