The curious case of Royston Drenthe

I think it’s fair to say that a spell at Real Madrid has done a number of careers in. This is in no way an indictment on the club, although it also is, in a way. Usually when things between club and player fail to work out, a team of factors are at play; injuries, loss of form, homesickness, ‘transfer policy’, you name it. Fact remains these ex-Blancos embark on a steady decline. The Michael Owen who returned from the Spanish capital never attained the heights of the one that left Anfield in a £8 million move, Ballon d’Or dangling out of his back pocket.

The same could be said of Brazilian duo Julio Baptista and Robinho, brought in to bolster the ‘Galactico’ population. Though the former helped Malaga qualify for the Champions League this past season, the latter will be back in the Campeonato Brasileiro next season with either boyhood club Santos or Cruzeiro. Nothing wrong with going back to your roots, with La Liga and Serie A winners’ medals, I might add. But given the amount of expectation placed on the AC Milan forward as he left his homeland, he never gave us the ‘New Pele’ we were waiting for.

One of the few Dutch players to sign with Real Madrid, Royston Drenthe can be safely added to his list, I believe. He was just 20 when Los Merengues came calling and not wanting the opportunity to don the revered white jersey pass him by, arm-twisted Feyenoord into releasing him. Little did he know 6 short years later he would be putting pen to paper on a deal with a newly relegated English Premier League club. Drenthe is no stranger to relegation, he suffered the same fate while out on loan to Hercules during his third season at the Bernabeu. And again last season while toiling with some remote Russian club whose lengthy name starts with V and ends with Z.

Perhaps he has taken a cue from the gods who seem to be condemning the 26-year-old to life among the lesser lights of football, having let him rub shoulders with the crème de la crème. More likely, no better offers were forthcoming; he had to settle for the bird at hand; a two-year deal with Reading carrying the option of a further one year extension. Interesting, given the Dutchman is nowhere near celebrating his 30th birthday.

So the question is, was he, and all the other Real Madrid cast-offs by extension, unlucky, overrated or victims of their own foibles?