Man City star Micah Richards on Saints coach Ronald Koeman’s radar?
Southampton (8/1 with Coral for a top four finish) supposedly have scouts searching for a replacement right back, should Nathaniel Clyne make a much-mooted move to Manchester United this summer.
Reports suggest Manchester City-owned defender Micah Richards, who is available on a free transfer at the end of the season, is firmly in the Saints’ sights. However, the south coast club could be forced to scrap for his signature.
The 26-year-old is currently on loan at high-flying Serie A side Fiorentina (5/1 to lift the Europa League), but has made just 15 outings this campaign, and has often been used as a back-up or rotation option by Viola boss Vincenzo Montella.
Commenting on his future recently, Richards said: “It’s difficult to say at the moment. Every footballer can go to a bigger club on a free contract but for me, I’m still only 26 and I just want to play every game, that’s what’s important.”
Birmingham-born Richards burst onto the Sky Blues scene in 2005 and was counted among England’s most promising young defenders, before seeing his progress stall.
The powerful, pacy and versatile player has been capped 13 times by the Three Lions, but Richards fell out of favour with current Citizens coach Manuel Pellegrini and is expected to exit the Etihad when he returns from Italy.
As the last Englishman to be playing in continental competition, following parent club City’s Barcelona lesson, Richards must seize the chance to put himself in the shop window.
With Inter Milan, and former Sky Blues boss Roberto Mancini, interested in taking the adaptable star to the San Siro, Southampton could become embroiled in a transfer tussle.
However, Saints are chasing a top four finish and may be able to offer European football next season, something Inter are unlikely to be able to match.
Should Richards opt to return to the Premier League and work under Ronald Koeman’s wing, he will have a tough task if chosen to replace Clyne, as part of one the league’s most miserly defences.
Crystal Palace academy product Clyne’s performances this campaign have seen the 23-year-old be rewarded with an England cap, and the Red Devils are said to be keen to capture the flying fullback.
After St Mary’s was plundered for top stars last summer, Koeman acted quickly to bring in top quality replacements, and looks set to have a contingency plan yet again.
Richards could certainly thrive under the Saints tactician’s tutelage, which could also be good news for Three Lions fans, if the full back can finally reach his potential.