The England international defender has found it tough to regain a place in Manuel Pellegrini’s side and is being linked with an Etihad Stadium exit.
Whenever Micah Richards made his international debut to become England’s youngest-ever defender back in November 2006, a bright future was touted for the right-back. Despite playing well over 150 times in the Premier League for Manchester City and amassing 13 caps for his country, one feels that the 25-year-old has not quite lived up to his full potential as yet.
The defender played a significant role in City’s 2011-12 Premier League title campaign, but spent most of last term on the sidelines due to injury. Regardless of club form, good or bad, he has largely been overlooked for national selection and now faces a battle with the likes of Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson to make it back into the England team.
At club level, Pablo Zabaleta poses as a considerable barrier to regular football for Richards and it appears that the Argentine will continue to dominate the right-back spot for City. As such, with absence from the national set-up and no guarantee of regular football at club level, Richards needs to assess his options.
If he stays fit and is given a chance to play, the 25-year-old has all the attributes to be one of the best defenders in the Premier League. His versatility means that he can play at centre-half or full-back, while his physical attributes make him an ominous opponent. He has steadily improved his ability on the ball and when fully fit is a player that would contribute to most teams in Europe.
The two main clubs that have been linked with January bids for Richards are probably not great moves for the England man. Real Madrid are said to have shown an interest, but a move to the Santiago Bernabeu could result in the defender in the same situation as he finds himself in at City, with the majority of his time on the bench.
Newcastle have also been recently mentioned as surprise candidates for Richards’ signature, but surely the defender will look for a club fighting for honours and Champions League football if he does opt to leave City.
City seem keen to keep the player at the club and are reportedly eager to extend his contract. Richards should be very coy in deciding whether or not he wants to stay at the Etihad Stadium though, as the opportunity to play more regularly and progress his international ambitions may well be better served elsewhere.
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