Reading left-back Omar Richards is to join German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich this summer.
The 23-year-old, who joined Reading’s academy in 2014, made his debut in August 2017 and has gone on to make 106 appearances for the Championship club.
Richards, who rejected a new contract, will move as a free agent and has agreed a deal until 2025.
He will provide competition for Alphonso Davies at left-back as Bayern aim to bolster their defence.
David Alaba and Jerome Boateng have both left the six-time European champions after a ninth successive Bundesliga title, with highly-rated French central defender Dayot Upamacano moving to Bayern from RB Leipzig.
“My move to FC Bayern is a great honour for me,” Richards told the club’s website.
“A dream has come true. I’m proud to be wearing the shirt of one of the world’s biggest clubs,” he added.
Richards will wear the number three shirt at Bayern, suggesting he has not been signed merely as a squad player.
“Omar is a technically gifted player on the left side of defence,” Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said.
“He finds good solutions going forward, he’s very alert and we trust him to play a good role in our team.”
The next Sancho or Bellingham?
Richards joins a growing cohort of English players now plying their trade in Germany, headed by Borussia Dortmund duo Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, who are in England’s provisional squad for Euro 2020.
Former Leicester City and England Under-21 forward Demarai Gray moved to Bayer Leverkusen in January, while former West Ham youngster Reece Oxford joined Augsburg permanently in 2019 after a loan stint at the club and two temporary spells at Borussia Monchengladbach.
RB Leipzig signed Ademola Lookman from Everton in July 2019, although he has spent the season on loan at Fulham, while former Everton youngster Antony Evans is on the books of Paderborn but spent the second half of the season on loan at Crewe Alexandra.
Last season Liverpool centre-back Nat Phillips gained valuable experience while on loan at Stuttgart and Everton full-back Jonjoe Kenny spent the season at Schalke.
Who is Omar Richards?
When you think of players who might be joining one of the world’s biggest clubs, a 23-year-old left-back from a second-tier side in England is not necessarily the first name that comes to mind.
The Lewisham-born defender was on Fulham’s books until the age of 16 before signing professional terms with Reading after being released by the Craven Cottage side in 2016.
He played two EFL Trophy matches for the club’s under-23 team in his first season before making his debut at QPR in the Championship on the opening day of the 2017-18 campaign.
He made 16 appearances in his first season as he began to establish himself in the first team under the leadership of former Manchester United and Netherlands defender Jaap Stam.
“Omar is a left-back with a lot of quality on the ball, pace and real drive going forward – and those are attributes which every team in football is looking for in a player,” Stam said of the player to the Bundesliga website.
He struggled to make the team as much the following season, but the 2019-20 season proved to be his breakout year as he established himself in the side and got his one and only England Under-21 cap. Richards started 23 of Reading’s 46 Championship game and was substitute in another five as they made the last 16 of the FA Cup and ended the season in mid-table.
This season Reading led England’s second tier for the first 11 games of the campaign before their form tailed off – one win from their last 11 matches saw the Royals end seven points and one place off the play-off places.
“Like most modern day full-backs, his athleticism and distribution two of his key assets,” said former Reading and Wales defender Ady Williams, who now works as a Reading commentator for BBC Radio Berkshire.
“He’s not the biggest and has struggled at times defending the back post from crosses arriving from the opposite side.
“But he is a good athlete and a good defender in one-on-one situations.”
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