The search for the next great American soccer talent rumbles on in Europe, and Chris Richards has become the latest talent from the United States to have his name tossed into the transfer rumor mill.
English Premier League sides Arsenal and Chelsea are reportedly interested in trying to sign the Bayern Munich defender, according to a report that surfaced on Monday from the Daily Mirror (a report that was confirmed by German outlet Bild).
Richards, who recently turned 20, has continued to impress with Bayern Munich’s reserve team, building on the momentum he gained from a standout performance at the Under-20 World Cup last summer. He was arguably the U.S. Under-20 team’s best player on their way to the Under-20 World Cup quarterfinals.
Bought by Bayern Munich from FC Dallas in January of 2019 in a deal worth $1.25 million, Richards has made a smooth transition from Bayern’s U-19 team to Bayern II, and should be in contention for a promotion to the Bayern first team next season if, as expected, Bayern revamps its defense with the expected departures of veteran centerbacks Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez.
The Alabama native has impressed scouts with his enticing combination of sharp passing skills, strong defending and elite athleticism. He was expected to be a contender for a place on the U.S. Olympic team if the team qualified for the 2020 Olympics (that was before the Olympics were postponed to 2021).
The interest from clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea should come as no surprise, but Bayern is a team that doesn’t have to sell top young prospects, and could just as easily choose to keep Richards, with the hope being he can be developed into a first-team contributor much the same way Alphonso Davies was.
Both Arsenal and Chelsea have had Americans before, though Arsenal hasn’t quite had one break through as a first-team regular. Chelsea currently boasts Christian Pulisic on its first-team squad, with Matt Miazga also on the books with the London club.
As much as Richards’ status as an American makes him even more appealing for European clubs wanting to tap into the U.S. market, his value as a prospect is firmly anchored in the qualities he brings on the field, particularly his excellent passing and 6-foot-2 frame.
What do you think about the possibility of Richards making a move to England? Where do you think would the best destination for the young defender?
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