Micah Richards – Do The Transfer Rumors Make Sense?

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Updated: January 23, 2015

In recent weeks the transfer rumours of Chelsea snapping up Manchester City’s right back Micah Richards have gained more steam. Richards, on loan at Fiorentina. has already rejected contract renewal offers from City, leading to the speculation that he is set to become a free agent come summer when his contract expires. Whilst once regarded the premier right back talent in England, he has dramatically fallen down the pecking order at City thanks to a managerial change and a series of injuries. In the last summer window, he was approached by several clubs as well but City refused to lower their £7M valuation for a player with just a year left on his contract and third choice in his position. Finally, he was loaned out to Fiorentina for the season for playing time.

In Florence, he has not racked up a host of appearances despite being fitter than he was in his last two seasons at Manchester City. While his detractors might point out to that and say that if he couldn’t start regularly at a mid-table Serie A side, he shouldn’t be a Chelsea target. But it should be kept in mind that Fiorentina very often employ wing backs, rendering Richards needless. It is also pointed out that Chelsea had a keen interest in bringing his services to London a few years ago. But back then, he was City’s first choice right back, an energetic, athletic youngster with loads of potential. And what has changed over the years is that now he is seen as an injury-prone defender with defensive frailties.

Bursting onto the scene at the tender age of 17, he was the highest rated City academy product alongwith Daniel Sturridge. He was seen as the heir to Gary Neville at right back for England, when he made his England debut in 2006, making him the youngest English defender since Rio Ferdinand. Now Micah is no more expectant of an England callup than Wes Brown is. When one says ‘Manchester City defender’ your mind might straight away spring to Pablo Zabaleta (after Kompany) but an oft overlooked fact is that he was not even a regular starter at City up until the 2012/13 season. City’s player of the year in 2011/12 when they won the Premier League in a dramatic fashion, Richards was City’s standout defender before a knee injury ruled him out for months. That was the period when Zabaleta cemented his starting position.

Manuel Pellegrini is known to be a very poor man-manager and he has showed it at City as well. Scapegoating key defenders Micah Richards and Matija Nastasic for City’s goal conceding woes on their travels, he went on to sign Sagna and Mangala, pushing them further down the pecking order. While Nastasic went to Schalke on loan with a permanent option last week, Micah Richards was loaned to Florence with two contract offers sent his way, each improving his current pay packet. Not content with sitting on the bench and collecting his paycheques, Richards rejected both.

What makes him interesting for Chelsea is that, he is very much a younger, less polished version of our Serbian fullback marauder, Branislav Ivanovic. Both of them love to charge forward while making sure that they are not caught out too forward. While the right side of our defence has been cited as the hotspot of our defensive troubles, more of that is due to Cahill rather than Ivanovic. A more proactive defender would complement Ivanovic’s aggressive style of play, which is not a common feature for fullbacks. Richards can also fill in at centre back when needed, making his versatility another plus point.

Ivanovic has been stellar for Chelsea this season attacking-wise, making up very often for the lack of width on the right caused due to Willian drifting inside. His attacking contributions have been valued so highly by Jose Mourinho that he has preferred the Serbian to Azpilicueta on the right, continuing to play the excellent Spaniard on the left and not on his natural right side, despite an elite natural left back in Filipe Luis brought in. It doesn’t help though that Ivanovic is already over 31 years of age and it seems likely that he will be shifted to centre back in the coming seasons. With that in mind, it is only logical to tie up a like for like replacement if available. And Richards represents exactly that.

Assists

Richards has not featured for England since the famous Euro 2012 snub, where he was overlooked in favour of Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, despite having come on the back of a stellar title winning season with Manchester City. That season reflected the potential that Richards had always shown and it is only fair to compare his numbers from that season to Ivanovic’s last full season at right back (2013/14). Let us also throw Glen Johnson into the mix to see how inferior his numbers were to Richards’ despite being England’s first choice.

Min Per Chance

Richards has the best chance creation rate among the three. To put it into perspective, it is not that much worse than Ivanovic’s chance creation rate (80mins/chance) from this season, where his attacking play has been a joy to watch.

Tackles

Richards maintains a high tackle success rate despite his attacking forays. While Ivanovic lingers in the 50s in terms of tackles won (56%) this season as well, Richards’ defensive performance in 2011/12 seems to have left nothing wanting.

All said, Richards will be a good pick for the Blues. Homegrown, he will also add to our dwindling English ranks. Coming without any transfer fee attached, he will surely command wages in the vicinity of £150,000, but that isn’t a princely sum given his talents, coming up to roughly £8M per year. If he realizes his potential or manages to find his 2011/12 form, he will be an excellent pick for the Blues. And in case he doesn’t, he still is at a good enough level to function as a backup centre back or right back. Can’t go wrong, methinks!

Author’s Note: Statistics for this article have been sourced from Opta sources.

4 Comments

  1. akinsuper

    January 24, 2015 at 3:03 PM

    I am surprised that nothing was mentioned of Ivanovic’s defending this season. He has totally abandoned it 2 Willian & Cahill’s terrible form on the right has been a disaster. Just check how many goals we have conceded from the right of defense between Cahill/Ivanovic. Simple: Ivanovic/Cahill need a breather, Azpilicueta will balance our defense & attack better on the right. Mourinho is simply afraid of playing Azpi there because he will have to drop Ivanovic.

  2. Rob Baney

    January 25, 2015 at 6:37 PM

    Richards is not the solution, to anything.

  3. Pingback: Homegrown Chelsea Target To Sign For Villa - Chelsea Index

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