Despite having the financial resources available to purchase any of the world's top players, with the possible exception of Lionel Messi, Manchester City have made a huge mistake in agreeing to let Micah Richards leave on a free-transfer.
The 26-year old right back had been a regular under previous manager Roberto Mancini during their 2011-12 Premier League title winning campaign but has since found chance harder to come by under current boss Manuel Pellegrini.
Loaned out to Fiorentina last season before eventually being allowed to join Aston Villa earlier this week, the 26-year-old right-back represents something of a bargain for the Midlands club and may cause City to rue their decision to let him leave.
Clearly delighted with his new acquisition, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood was full of praise for Richards, a player whom he feels is at the perfect age to arrive at the club.
"Micah is a winner," Sherwood told Villa's official website. "He helped Manchester City win their first Premier League title in 44 years, has won the FA Cup and has played in the Champions League.
"So we are signing a player who is used to winning football matches. I want players with that winning mentality here.
"And we are also signing a player at his peak.
"At 26, we are getting him when he should be producing the best football of his career."
NO ROOM AT CITY
Yet despite Sherwood's obvious joy, Manchester City clearly didn't rate his abilities enough to keep hold of the former England defender, instead opting to use Bacary Sagna as a back-up option to first-choice option Pablo Zabaleta.
However, as City's ageing starting XI barely continues to evolve, the need for younger alternatives becomes all the more evident.
At just 26-years-old Richards is significantly younger then Zabaleta and Richards who at 30 and 32 are only going to see their abilities fade from hereon in. By contrast, as Sherwood notes, Richards is now entering into his prime and thus surely deserved an opportunity at City to show his worth.
With the financial regulations that are coming into play, City will now be forced to spend more money on a new right-back when it is decided that either Zabaleta or Sagna require updating, whereas had they stuck by Richards then this wouldn't be the case.
Furthermore, as talented homegrown players are proving something of a rarity these days, having an experienced readymade homegrown talent at their disposal would only have been a bonus. Especially considering City's current lack of players to fill this incoming quota.
Time will tell if Manchester City regret their decision to part with Micah Richards, but if he proves himself at Villa then expect his stock to rise significantly.
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