Micah Richards’ latest statements suggest that while he is still hesitant to leave Manchester City, reality may be sinking in that doing so would be his best option.
The 25-year-old, who has spent his entire career with the Citizens after joining the club’s youth system at the age of 14, has found consistent playing time hard to come by due to injury woes and the emergence of Pablo Zabaleta as the first-choice right-back.
A bevy of Serie A clubs were linked with moves for the Englishman over the summer, including Roma, Inter, Fiorentina and Juventus, but a switch never materialized as Richards remained intent on remaining at the Etihad to fight for his place in the squad.
However, with just five appearances to his name across all competitions in the current campaign, the situation seems to have reached an impasse for the Birmingham native, whose career has threatened to stall out based on his insistence to remain at City. It seems that Richards may now be grasping a harsh reality, although it is one he must face if he is to see regular action and reach his potential.
Richards may maintain that he can’t see himself donning the colors of another club, but his priorities clearly dictate that he must consider moving to a place with greater opportunity. He’s stated his intent to see out the rest of the season with City to assess his chances of winning a regular place in the starting 11, so indeed it appears that he’ll have either signed a new deal at the Etihad prior to May or be listening to offers from suitors next summer.
The Italian clubs reportedly keen on adding Richards to their ranks will have taken notice of his reluctant admission that he will be open to a move, and will closely monitor the situation with eyes on securing his services.
A player that still is of a relatively young age and has much to offer with pace, power and technical skills to boot, Richards could be quite suited to Serie A, particularly under Vincenzo Montella, Antonio Conte or Rudi Garcia.
What price the England international comes at would remain to be seen, although with a year left to run on his contract come July, City would be hard-pressed to command his full value and would be inclined to push through a sale if the full-back requests. Unless something truly remarkable happens under Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad, it seems Richards will be confronted by the decision to leave his longtime employers at season’s end.
Yet, plenty of viable option wait in the wings, and with a list of Italian clubs on the upswing known to be admirers of the 25-year-old, making the switch to Serie A may be both the clearest alternative to sitting on the bench at City, and the best career decision he could make.