What is his pedigree?
Signing a full Dutch International from Real Madrid it would be fair to trot out the cliché ‘the boys a bit special’ and certainly he is more Pienaar than Preki. He hit the big time in 2007 when Real paid Feyenoord €13m after he was crowned player of the European U-21 Championships. On arrival, Sporting Director Mijatovic, claimed that “Royston Drenthe is the prototype of the modern player” Drenthe has excellent technique – in terms of artistry on the ball he is similar to former Blue loan ranger Manual Fernandes. It’s the mentality problem with Drenthe – can we keep him in check and focused on his football? The guy has a track record of being something of a flawed enigma which historically doesn’t sit well with Moyes management style. If Drenthe had the mentality of someone like Phil Neville though, it’s dubious that we would be in a position to sign him as he would probably have his pick of clubs offering higher salaries than us.
What position will he occupy?
Where he will be deployed is the big question. Naturally left footed, he likes to go on the outside on the left flank, but this would invade the space Baines exploits so well. – see below diagram – he could he be deployed wide right cutting in on his better left foot perhaps? His right foot is decent though so he could do a similar job on the opposing flank. He can also play at left back (although not great) and as a defensive central midfielder (a position we are top heavy in) He has ferocious pace and alongside the likes of Coleman , Rodwell and Fellaini enables us to play a more intensive pressing game higher up field when off the ball and looking for 2nd balls from a target man when we are in possession.
Drenthe is very direct and will take players on – this was one of the biggest skill gaps in the squad last season and why Moyes spent the summer longing for the N’Zogbia transfer that never materialized – Drenthe gives us this in abundance, he has lightening pace and will go for the throat at every opportunity.
Will this change how we play?
In a 4-2-3-1 where the defensive and attacking midfield roles are delineated – I would go Barkley left, Osman centre and Drenthe right as my first choice 3 – all are comfortable with both feet and are interchangeable in the attacking midfielder berths. Rodwell and Fellaini would be deployed as the anchor men. I feel this gives us the best balance of pressing off the ball and ability when in possession. The pace we have lost from Beckford will be replaced by Drenthe pressing and getting in behind defences high up field– probably making our default system 4-2-3-1 and not 4-4-1-1. Baines is still very much the key attacking outlet – I would be surprised if his role was compromised to accommodate the Dutchman who can be selfish on the ball so it will be interesting to see where Roysten is deployed initially. Trial and error may be required by DM.
A positive and creative signing from the Blues. Bringing genuine quality on the ball and pace and aggression off it. If we can get him focused off the pitch we have a real star on our hands here.