Micah Richards has become the second Englishman to exchange the Premier League for Serie A this summer after confirming a loan move to Fiorentina.
The powerful defender, who has struggled for playing time at Manchester City over the past few seasons, moves to Florence with the prospect of getting his career back on track, City confirmed on Monday:
BBC Sport reported the feed for the deal:
Fiorentina have paid 4.5m euros to take Micah Richards on loan from #mcfc Will rise to 6m euros if they want to sign him permanently.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 1, 2014
Richards commented on his Twitter account following the move:
City will always be my heart and soul. Thank u to everyone at the club over the last 12 years. Ctid xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx👕— Micah Richards (@MicahRichards) September 1, 2014
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany wished Richards well at his new club via his Twitter account:
Richards could be an excellent addition to the Viola's squad. The 26-year-old plays menacing football when fully confident, led by his considerable physical stature and willingness to battle. He is versatile enough to slot into either a full-back or central defender's role, but may need time to regain match sharpness after two years in the wilderness for City.
Will Micah Richards be a success in Italy?
The Englishman has remained a bit-part player throughout the Premier League side's recent era of success. Sheikh Mansour's added riches has seen leaders such as Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta added to the club's ranks, meaning Richards is constantly fighting for limited spots.
Manuel Pellegrini opted to bring in both Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala this summer, providing a subtle hint that Richards was surplus to requirements before his Serie A switch was confirmed.
It is often suggested not enough British players travel abroad to establish themselves. Ashley Cole exited Chelsea in the summer and confirmed a move to Roma, a move which may have set the way for many others to take a chance.
Simon Peach of the Press Association admires Richards for opting to accept an alternative challenge, while Hayley McQueen of Sky Sports suggests he could have easily moved to another British side:
Fair play to Micah Richards for going out of his comfort zone & moving to Fiorentina. Only 26, here's hoping this kick-starts his career.— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) September 1, 2014
Micah Richards has turned down offers from the UK to sign for Fiorentina on loan. #SkyDeadlineDay— Hayley McQueen (@HayleyMcQueen) September 1, 2014
Fiorentina started their Serie A season with defeat to Roma. Nenad Tomovic featured at right-back for Vincenzo Montella's side, who also began with Gonzalo Rodriguez and Stefan Savic at centre-back. Richards could be brought in to play alongside Savic, his former City team-mate, especially if Juan Cuadrado is destined to stay and fulfil right wing-back duties.
A positive season with Fiorentina should see Richards reignite his hopes of returning to the England team. He felt "frozen out" under Fabio Capello before being overlooked by Roy Hodgson, but will give himself a chance of making it back into the international fray with a consistent run of form.
Richards should be heading toward his peak at this stage of his career. While it has been evident for some years he was never going to receive regular opportunities at City, the experienced defender can highlight his wide range of qualities by establishing himself at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.