The reputation of Bayern Munich II defender Chris Richards has grown steadily over the past three years. For many players, signing with Bayern Munich might have been an apex, but Richards keeps getting better and better — and people are noticing.
Yesterday, FIFA named Richards one of the “Ten rising stars the world should follow” from the U-20 World Cup that took place in Poland over the summer. In addition to Richards, FIFA’s technical report from the competition listed the following players:
- Lee Kangin (Korea Republic, Valencia CF — winner of the adidas Golden Ball award)
- Andriy Lunin (Ukraine, Real Madrid — winner of the adidas Golden Glove award)
- Alessandro Plizarri (Italy, AC Milan)
- Serhii Buletsa (Ukraine, SC Dnipro — winner of the adidas Silver Ball award),
- Sékou Koïta (Mali, RB Salzburg)
- Yukhym Konoplia (Ukraine, FC Desna Chernihiv)
- Valerii Bondar (Ukraine, Shakhtar Donetsk)
- Gonzalo Plata (Ecuador, Sporting CP — winner of the adidas Bronze Ball award)
- Amadou Sagna (Senegal, Club Brugge — winner of the adidas Bronze Boot)
FIFA’s Head of Coaching & Player Development Branimir Ujevic had this to say about the overall quality of play during the U-20 World Cup:
The FIFA U-20 World Cup was very impressive in terms of both individual and collective quality. In fact, the efficiency-driven approach exhibited by the majority of teams was only possible due to the presence of players who were able to trigger quick transitions by playing clinical balls in behind the defense. There was a lot of tactical awareness too, which confirms that we are talking about very mature players that can make an impression at the highest level.
Ujevic led the panel that developed the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG), which also featured Portugal legend Fernando Couto and Croatian coach Ivo Šušak, FIFA Goalkeeping Specialist Pascal Zuberbuhler, Performance & Game Analyst Chris Loxston, and TSG Coordinator and former Swiss women’s national team captain Prisca Steinegger.
Richards’ stellar performance for the United States certainly gave him valuable exposure on a big stage. Richards started all five games and played the full 90 minutes in four of those contests. Richards, who is still just 19, came to Bayern Munich from FC Dallas and was the subject of an exclusive three-part Bavarian Football Works feature earlier this year.
FIFA also released this “technical study” on its You Tube channel, which highlights some of Richards’ finest work during the tournament:
Eric Quill, Richards’ former coach with Texans SC (Houston), tweeted out this response to the recognition that his former charge received. Quill also previously spoke to Bavarian Football Works at length regarding Richards’ development:
I have to say this doesn’t surprise me. This young man has an elite level talent, humble work ethic, coachability, competitive drive and has leadership skills to make you drool as a coach and fan. He deserves every bit of hype he’s getting.#Truth— Eric Quill (@quillyo15) September 4, 2019
The rise of Richards is not shocking to anyone who has followed his story. Somehow, though, Richards has floated under the radar as one of the game’s best defensive prospects.
At some point soon — probably very soon — Richards is going to warrant a spot on a first-team roster. With a surplus of defenders currently in Bavaria, Bayern Munich’s lineup will not be easy to crack. Richards, however, has thus far overcome every roadblock that has appeared in his path.
Earlier this summer, FC Barcelona and Valencia were rumored to be interested in the Hoover, Alabama, native, but for now Richards will continue to hone his skills and develop on Säbener Strasse, where he has made great progress.
Clearly, Richards has an exciting future ahead of him, but the Bavarians will not be able to keep their diamond in the rough hidden in their youth system for much longer. Global talent-vultures from England, Spain, France, and Italy will surely be circling soon, just waiting to swoop in to snatch an extremely valuable and talented prospect.