The 25-year-old has been at the Etihad for 13 years since joining the youth academy as a 13 year-old schoolboy. A talented and highly rated young prospect for both club and country, Richards has not been a regular starter for the Citizens since the arrival of Roberto Mancini.
Richards earned his England senior debut back in 2006, but has won just 13 caps in the eight years since due to a number of long-term injuries, which have seen him miss long periods of league football.
The arrival of a number of top-level defenders in the shape of Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta, and Matija Nastasic in recent years have only compounded Richards’ struggle to gain regular access to first team football. A hamstring injury in December followed an on-going fitness battle, after a knee operation that saw him miss almost all of last season but when he has played, whether as a centre-back or fullback, he has shown his quality.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have moved on Johan Djourou and will likely require a player to come in as a fourth-choice centre-half, if not a possible replacement for captain Thomas Vermaelen who has been dropped to the bench the best part of a year at the Emirates.
Bacary Sagna is out of contract in June and Arsene Wenger could very likely require a right-back to come in to take over from the French defender. Richards would, for the Gunners, be a suitable choice on one very precarious condition – that he can stay fit.
Wenger could possibly sign him for a reduced price, but the French coach would have to convince Richards he would have the opportunity to start (as a right-back predominantly, I would imagine) week in week out ahead of Carl Jenkinson because there is certainly no way he could rival Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for the central positions (or Sagna if he stays on) in the back line, at least not on current form if both are fit.
Overall, Richards could add strength in depth to Wenger’s defensive department and his versatility to play in two positions would make him a very useful utility player who wants to play regularly and compete for a starting place in the team but his fitness record (or lack thereof) could be a serious deal-breaker for any club considering signing him.