As of this summer, Micah Richards was released by Manchester City after a difficult loan spell in Italy's Serie A with Fiorentina.
The ex-England international was unable to hold down a regular first-team spot in the side, making only 10 appearances for the club. So the question remains, what happened to the once highly rated young defender and when did it go wrong?
Richards was an extremely promising young defender and City had high hopes for him. He made his breakthrough at 17 for the club and a year later received his first call up to the England squad. The City manager at that time, Stuart Pearce, was full of praise for the defender.
The club thought so highly of the then-England international that they handed him the club armband at the tender age of 19 in 2007. During his City career, Richards earned 179 appearances, scoring six goals. He has two Premier League medals and has won the League and FA Cup.
These are the statistics usually reflective of a phenomenal talent. Richards is distinguishable with his size and bulk, and a powerful and quick defender. It is unfortunate that certain managers did not rate him high enough as he had potential to become a great defender for club and country. It still might be argued that hope is not lost for the 26-year-old.
Out of contract, Richards will be looking for a new club to ply his trade. Understandably he has mentioned his desire to return to England once again as his spell in Italy was unsuccessful. With the takeover of City in 2008 by Sheikh Mansour, where an influx of the world's top players arrived at the club, getting regular first-team football was always going to be a struggle for the young Englishman.
The addition of Richards to any club in the Premier League would be somewhat of a bargain considering he is out of contract. With no need to spend money on a transfer all the club's need to do is to agree terms of a contract with him.
Clubs to get him?
Arguably there are many suitors for Richards in the Premier League and he will have to think carefully about who he is to sign for. Of the top four clubs in England arguably Arsenal could be a good fit for Richards, as Arsene Wenger will be looking to add some beef to his defense.
Wenger might also be swayed on the fact that Richards is English and will know many of the Arsenal players from his England days. To take a punt on him would not be a gamble as he is now reaching the prime years of his career.
What Richards needs
What Richards has lacked in his career is a manager who guides and trusts in him. At City he was not favoured by the many managers they have had. Arguably with a manager like Wenger, who trusts in his players and gives chances to play to his whole squad, it could be a good fit for Richards.
He will not cost any money apart from his contract and will add an assurance to the Arsenal defensive ranks. The forgotten man of English football will surely make a return to the Premier League this summer and will be hoping to reignite his once blossoming career.
Arsenal fans, do you think Richards would be a good signing this year? Let us know in the comments box below.
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