Bayern Munich sent young American Chris Richards for a loan spell at Hoffenheim and it seems to be going very well.
In short order he has earned himself a starting role, shown definite improvement in all areas of his game and even delivered a stoppage-time winner against SC Freiburg for his first Bundesliga goal. But despite his early success in Hoffenheim, Richards remains firmly focused on becoming a consummate professional and following in David Alaba’s footsteps to become a regular at Bayern Munich.
Spending some time on the sidelines due to a foot injury Richards made time for an extensive interview with The Athletic.
Richards discussed his appreciation for his former coach at Bayern, Sebastian Hoeness, and how his trust for the man made the move to Hoffenheim a productive and positive transition. Apparently Richards likes a hard ass coach who tells him directly what he is doing right and what he is doing wrong — and Hoeness gives him exactly that: “He gets the best out of me by just giving it to me straight, no sugarcoating.”
His quickly earned starting role has allowed him to grow as a professional. Rather than preparing for potential substitute or lower division experiences he has learned to prepare his body and mind for weekly play the highest level. He shows excellent insight about the need for professionalism for a young man his age.
“When I came here, it was like, ‘OK, I have a game on the weekend and I have to prepare my body for it and then use that time and learn how to take care of my body both on and off the field’. It’s been really good for me,” said Richards. “I think being more physical on the ball, but you can always be better with on the ball stuff and so that’s something I’m really trying to work on more. I think it was just kind of becoming more of a professional on and off the field that really helped me.”
While focusing on his present development Richards is also considering several different routes to continue his ascent up the professional ranks. But his goal remains firmly fixed on playing for Germany’s best side saying.
“Everybody knows David’s story, I think when you’re playing at Hoffenheim, especially as a young player, a lot of the top clubs all over Europe are taking notice,” Richards said. “And so if I go back to Bayern and take the David Alaba route then that’s probably the best-case scenario. But there’s also other routes you can take to get where you want to be.”
In another interesting tidbit, Richards comments about why so many Americans take the Bundesliga route into the European professional ranks saying there is less politics to getting a stop in the German league than the EPL, implying that merit is the top criteria for German clubs in signing and starting players while it may not be in the EPL.
With any luck Richards will get his wish and return to Bayern to fulfill his dreams.