Southampton look set to miss out on Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards this summer, which could prove to be a big mistake by Ralph Hasenhuttl.
What’s the word?
Fabrizio Romano confirmed this morning that: “Chris Richards, now one step away from joining Crystal Palace on permanent deal from FC Bayern. Fee will be €15m with add-ons included, as @Plettigoal reported. Final details discussed. There’s full agreement on personal terms, Patrick Vieira wants Richards.”
The 22-year-old has spent each of the last two seasons on loan with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga and has clearly caught the eye of Premier League sides with his performances.
A big mistake by Ralph?
While Southampton have already recruited heavily this summer, they have added just one defender – 20-year-old Armel Bella-Kotchap.
Should Southampton have signed Richards?
Considering the Saints’ defence was one of the worst in the Premier League last season, as they shipped 67 goals in the top flight, defensive reinforcements perhaps should have been a priority for Hasenhuttl this summer.
In Richards, they would have been getting a top young prospect with plenty of top division experience in Germany.
According to FbRef, the fourth-most similar player to the American defender is Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels and considering his impressive career for club and country, Richards could have been a quality addition at St Mary’s.
The 22-year-old scored fantastically last season from both an attacking and a defensive perspective. As well as being in the 99th percentile for blocks and 98th percentile for aerial duels won, he also scored above 90 for non-penalty goals and assists.
He clearly has a lot of ability in the air and an eye for goal, which combined with James Ward-Prowse’s world-class set-piece delivery, could have been deadly at Southampton.
Therefore, the Saints may well regret not bringing in Richards this summer, especially if he goes on to be a success at Selhurst Park.
AND, in other news: Imagine him & JWP: Ralph can form “superb” Saints duo by signing “stunning” 46-goal gem