Fiorentina technical director Eduardo Macia has revealed that the club had been targeting Micah Richards since January, prior to the deadline day deal which saw the defender arrive from Manchester City on a season-long loan.
Set to become only the 24th Englishman to play in Serie A in the league’s history, Richards joins now-Roma left-back Ashley Cole in an exclusive club which also includes the likes of David Beckham, Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne and David Platt.
Delighted to have seen their long-time pursuit prevail, Macia noted that there was a great deal of competition for the 26-year-old’s signature, but the Florence-based outfit were always determined to get their man.
‘We have been thinking about Richards since the end of January's market,’ he told reporters.
‘We wanted a great right-back. There was a lot of competition for him, but from the first day we spoke with the player, he gave us his word and he kept it.’
Sporting director Daniele Prade also admitted that he was worried the deal would fall through, having seen a similar late bid for then-Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov collapse in August 2012.
‘I did not sleep the night between Sunday and Monday,’ he said. ‘I was afraid that something might go wrong for Richards as had happened two years ago with Berbatov.’
City’s longest-serving player at the time of his departure, Richards has made 245 appearances since his debut in 2005, but has struggled for game time in recent seasons after being usurped at both right-back and centre-half.
Hailed as a future England stalwart upon making his Three Lions bow in November 2006, aged 18, the 13-times capped international will hope that regular first-team minutes in Serie A can get his once-flourishing career back on track, having turned offers from Premier League sides in favour of La Viola.
With the Italian side paying a reported £3.5 million to bring him on board for the 2014-15 campaign, if all goes to plan then an additional £1.2 million could eventually see Richards’ switch made permanent.