This summer seems to be quite productive for Bayern Munich, after acquiring Sadio Mane from Liverpool, and selling Marc Roca to Leeds. Another player that could find himself in a new environment could potentially be the 22-year old center-back. Here’s why this would be a mistake for Bayern.
Chris Richards has always had immense potential, the scouts at Bayern saw it in him when he was still at FC Dallas, and the fans see it every time he plays. Although he has been fighting injuries lately, Richards has always kept his quality of play up. He was a stalwart for Hoffenheim’s defense when he was there on a loan stint, and even at Bayern he always seemed to bring in fresh energy into the back line. Maybe he wasn’t exactly starting XI material at the beginning of his loan at Bayern, but he slowly proved himself to be an extremely talented defender with the right game vision. Even going into the game as a substitute, he always brings in a lot of energy to a tired defense, and increases the pace of the game with his energetic play.
Richards has established himself to be terrific at passing, and great at one-v-one’s, and it was these exact skills that made him a regular starter at Hoffenheim during his two seasons on loan there. And when he was injured, his absence was noticeable. Given his age, many people (justifiably) believe that he wouldn’t be the vocal leader in the defense that Bayern Munich needs, however Die Roten have had multiple younger, less proven players come through the system and absolutely dominate, Thomas Muller for example, even Jerome Boateng. Boateng joined the club age 23, and, at the time, he wasn’t exactly proven to be a superb defender. But with time and the right training, he went on to become one of Bayern’s greatest defenders. And that is exactly what I think Bayern should do with Richards.
The time is perfect, the club has lost Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, and Niklas Süle in the past two years so they definitely need someone to revamp the back line. Lucas Hernandez has lately proven himself to be a viable option as a center-back, however his skills lie in the left back position. Benjamin Pavard has also played as a CB in a few games, but, as with Hernandez, his skills lie elsewhere. The only other options the club has right now are Dayot Upamecano and Tanguy Nianzou. Nianzou, although talented for sure, has a lot to learn in terms of positioning, rash challenges, and making the right calls. Upamecano has proven himself to be quite a good defender, albeit with a few issues. So it only makes sense to keep Chris Richards at Bayern Munich and train him to become the next greatest defender that the Allianz Arena has seen.
With time and sufficient game play, I genuinely believe that Richards could become the next Boateng (in his prime years of course, none of that poor defending over there at Lyon), and could have a fixed spot in the starting XI. That, of course, would depend on what Bayern’s board thinks, and on whether he will have a role to play in Julian Nagelsmann’s playing style.
On the other hand, Richards would probably want to secure for himself a starting position for the USMNT’s World Cup squad, and maybe a move to a club where he would definitely get playing time would be beneficial to him. Recently, Richards seems to have attracted attention from La Liga, Ligue 1, and the Premier League (specifically Crystal Palace and Southampton). Bayern Munich are reportedly willing to sell the 1.88m tall defender for, ideally, 15 million euros.
Let’s hope that the American ace decides to stay at Bayern Munich and win us a couple of titles with his remarkable talent and potential.