Why England Defender Micah Richards Is Unlikely to Leave Manchester City
Micah Richards has endured a torrid time in the last 12 months. A knee injury ruled him out of action for almost the entire 2012/13 season, and a hamstring problem this season has restricted him to just two appearances. After missing out on competing with Pablo Zabaleta during the last campaign, the last thing he needed was a stuttering start to this one.
He’s been repeatedly linked to a move away from the club but has so far remained committed to winning his place back in the City side. According to The Mail, Newcastle are the latest side credited with an interest in signing him. They claim a new four-year City deal is on the table but say Richards is stalling to assess the likelihood of him breaking into Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Inter Milan are also said to be interested in Richards (via The Telegraph), but the defender, who signed for City as a 14-year-old and has played 162 games for the club, says he remains happy in Manchester, but he needs time to see what Pellegrini will bring to the club.
The manager has come in and I want to see his ideas and what he’s going to do. I want to be here and I don’t know why any player would want to leave but every player wants to play football and if I can do that here it’s perfect. Manchester City’s my club.
There was speculation because I’ve got two years left on my contract and Zabaleta had a fantastic season last season. He’s outstanding but that’s you expect at top teams. You expect competition. The season before we won the league, I had a good season and I’m just happy to be back fit.
The main thing is to be playing. I know there are a lot of games and I don’t expect to play every game but the season we won the league me and Zaba rotated really well together so if we can do that this season I’ll be happy.
Richards should find himself getting plenty of opportunities this season. Manuel Pellegrini only has two options at right-back, and with City set to try and compete on four fronts, rotation is going to be key in order to keep players fresh.
There are areas of Richards’ game that still need to improve, such as his concentration and positional play, but he made giant strides under Roberto Mancini. And if he can stay injury free, he can re-establish himself as one of the finest right full-backs in the Premier League.
In City’s title winning year of 2011/12, Richards was superb. The attacking side of his game was so devastating that he was rightly considered one of the club’s best weapons going forward. He has pace, power, energy and a willingness to bomb forward and double up with City’s wide players. He has all the attributes to be a regular starter for club and country.
However, his performance against Bayern Munich raised old question marks about his defensive nous. He clearly struggled in that game defensively, but it was only his second appearance of the season against the best club side in the world and he should be given time to rediscover his best form.
City are keen to tie him down beyond his current deal, which still has two years left to run (via club website). Club chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, said Richards was exactly the kind of the player club needed at its nucleus, according to City's official website.
"There are other players coming soon [signing new contracts], Zabaleta, Micah Richards. We'll make sure these players stay part of the future at City because they are really the core of this team,” said Mubarak in June.
"As much as we need to continue to invest in this team we also need to invest in the core foundation of the team, which is these players."
With the willingness of the club and the passion Richards has for City, the only stumbling appears to be first-team opportunities which he will get. When he gets his chance, he has to take, and he has the all attributes to do so convincingly.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.
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