When he took Europe by storm in the UEFA under-21 championships of 2007 the sky appeared the limit for the left sided operator that is Royston Drenthe. Along with future Premier League flops Ryan Babel, Maceo Rigters and Gianni Zuiverloon he was integral in Foppe De Haan’s side lifting the trophy in their own back-yard with victory over a Serbia side containing Alexander Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic.
The result was a boom in interest from around Europe for the dreadlocked Feyenoord man. Eventually that race was won by Real Madrid as part of their Dutch revolution of 2007 along with Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart. Much like that idea his time at Madrid was a failure. He lost the battle to be the clubs first choice left-back to Marcelo.
What has happened since has been a bizarre and worryingly typical volatile career path. His struggles for first team football in the Spanish capital saw him sent out on loan to newly promoted Alicante based side Hercules. At first all seemed well when he played an integral part in a promising start to their La Liga campaign, including a win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
After the winter break however the troublesome attitude of the Dutchman came to the fore when he turned up a week late from the winter break, citing a loss of confidence in the management at the club as the reason for his self-imposed exile. He was suspended and eventually only made 15 starts as the side were relegated despite all their early promise.
The following season we welcomed him to the Premier League with a loan move to Everton. Once again at first everything seemed just fine. His electric pace and direct style of play suited the Premier League and he was proving to be a difficult player to compete against. However his difficulty on the pitch was only mirrored off of it. Behind the scenes there was growing unrest and after an extended period away from the first-team on ‘compassionate grounds’ he arrived late for training and rubbed David Moyes up the wrong way on one to many occasions and was told to see out the remaining five games of his loan spell away from Goodison Park.
With his chances of a deal at Everton up in smoke he was released on to the free transfer market and it appears his attitude may be a stumbling block in his potential signing. This summer saw Liverpool, West Ham United and even Manchester City apparently looking at bringing him in but still he is without a club.
AC Milan and PSV Eindhoven are now looking like the frontrunners to tie down this mercurial talent for the near future and it is a shame things didn’t work out for him in England.
He was a character and as is seen with the continued elasticity in the public perception for Mario Balotelli the British football fan loves a charismatic bad-boy in their ranks. Drenthe, despite his talents and employment status, seems a risk too far for English clubs to take.
Would you like your side to sign Royston Drenthe?
image: © juanjaen