Sport Soccer

Saturday 17 March 2018

Richards picked Villa over Inter

Micah Richards spent last season on loan at Fiorentina
Micah Richards spent last season on loan at Fiorentina

Micah Richards has revealed he turned down a move to Inter Milan to join Aston Villa this summer.

The 27-year-old defender alerted the Italian giants, who are managed by his former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, to his availability as he spent last season on loan at Fiorentina.

Inter first made their interest known in January and made another approach at the end of the season as Richards' contract at City expired and he became a free agent.

But instead of opting to stay in Serie A, where he had struggled for games with Fiorentina, Richards decided to return to the Premier League in the hope of reviving his career.

He said: "There were quite a few clubs in for me, some abroad, but having not played so much at Fiorentina, I thought it was right to come home.

"I was speaking to Inter as well with Mancini. They tried to get me in January but that didn't materialise.

"I spoke to him afterwards but I wanted to come back to England. I didn't want to be out in Italy and then the manager gets sacked and I'm fighting for my place in the same situation. That's one of the main reasons I chose to come back."

Another option Richards had was to stay at City, having been offered a new deal, but he felt it necessary to move on after three years of little action.

Richards was influential in City's FA Cup and Premier League wins of 2011 and 2012 respectively but injuries and the form of Pablo Zabaleta restricted him to just nine league appearances in the subsequent two years. He then went to Florence on a season-long loan but played just 10 games in Serie A.

He said: "I got offered a four or five-year deal and the manager said to me, 'I want you to stay'. I said, 'I'm not playing enough'.

"When I was playing I was picking up hamstring injuries because I wasn't playing enough.

"It doesn't matter how much money you are offered, I thought, 'I can't keep doing this'. As a player, especially in the Premier League, if you get offered (the chance) to play somewhere regularly, you have to take it. That's me anyway - it's the sort of person I am.

"I'm not going to stay on the bench or at home on the weekends just for more money."

One point Richards, who was speaking earlier this week at Villa's official kit launch for the 2015-16 season, was keen to make was that he had no issue with City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Richards was impressed by the job the Chilean did in the 2013-14 title-winning season, even though he made just two appearances in that campaign. He is surprised the team then fell below expectations last term.

He said: "I got on with him well. Everyone thinks that because he didn't play me, I didn't like him. I don't think like that. He was a good manager.

"He came after Mancini and tried to settle the dressing room down a little bit because you know what Mancini was like, he had his heart on his sleeve.

"It was a shame Mancini didn't even get more time because I think he could have done even better.

"But Pellegrini sort of came in, and spoke to the players a lot more. I wouldn't say (there was more) harmony, because that would be unfair on Mancini, but Pellegrini let them know how good they were.

"It worked the first season because they won the Premier League.

"But last season I don't know what it was. It shows that you can't just be nice as a manager, you need more than that.

"Having said that, in the Champions League they could only register 21 players, so other teams had another four players to choose from."

Press Association

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