Richards could get centre-half role at Aston Villa

Aston Villa have completed the free transfer signing of Micah Richards, who could be given the opportunity to play in the heart of the back four by the beaten FA Cup finalists.

The England international has been at Manchester City since 2001, where he was once expected to become a mainstay of their first team and even captain them for years to come. However, Richards has been out of favour at the Etihad Stadium for some time, and he spent last season on loan at Italian side Fiorentina where he made 19 appearances in all competitions.

The 26-year-old’s contract at his parent club expires at the end of this month, and he will end his long association with the Blues after agreeing a four-year contract to join Villa on a Bosman. It is believed head coach Tim Sherwood, who led the Midlands club to the FA Cup where they lost to Arsenal, will play Richards in the heart of the back four as a replacement for Ron Vlaar.

Although the Holland star has not yet confirmed he will leave Villa during the summer window, his contract will soon be up and he is widely expected to snub an offer to extend his stay. Richards began his career as a centre-half before being switched to right fullback, and he will hope by reverting to his old position he can also add to the 13 caps he has won for his country.

He becomes Villa’s second signing of the summer following the permanent transfer of Scott Sinclair, also from City, and Sherwood said: “I’m sure he [Richards] will prove to be an excellent signing.”

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