In the short time he has been in the village of Sinsheim, Bayern Munich loanee Chris Richards has nailed down a starting spot with significant contributions week-in and week-out for his current club TSG Hoffenheim.
In an interview with kicker (English version provided by Derek Rae), Richards said both he and the Bayern coaching staff are happy with the amount of playing time he’s gotten:
“I am in touch with coach Hansi Flick and (Bayern is) happy with my development and want me to continue this path to prepare myself for next season in the best possible way.”
When he was asked whether or not he will return to Bavaria this summer he responded with:
“Good question. We’ll have see if they buy someone or sell. I assume at the moment that I’m going back there in summer to show them what I’ve learned.”
Richards isn’t leaving anything out of the question when it comes to his development — regardless of whether that means going back to Munich or continuing his time at Hoffenheim:
“Basically, yes. If that is the best option for me to continue developing. But that won’t be decided until the summer. Then we’ll see what the best step for me is and what Bayern thinks is best.”
Richards is already turning himself into a proven starter in the eyes of Hoffenheim manager Sebastian Hoeness. Over the American’s three Bundesliga starts, his 1.7 interceptions/90 and 3.7 clearances/90 are both the third highest totals on this current Hoffenheim squad. In his games in the Europa League, he also played well despite the poor result for his team.
Hoeness seems to have allowed Richards to push up the field further than his position of left center-back suggests. The 3-5-2 / 3-4-1-2 formation the team uses allows free movement of players all over the field. At times during Hoffenheim’s first Europa League game against Molde FK, you saw Richards push all the way up deep in the opponent’s 18-yard box, only to hustle back quickly to prevent counters.
Richards is smart for not wanting to rush things, or by defining his success by the club he plays for. If both sides think an extra year playing for Hoffenheim is for the best, then it might be the right choice for everyone. Otherwise, it’s very likely that these performances could see Richards back in the Starting XI for the first team soon.