Why Crystal Palace should beat West Ham to sign Omar Richards
The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to the top-flight and it has been claimed that Reading will try to sell him in January if he doesn’t sign an extension on his current contract that runs until the end of the season. (h/t Reading Chronicle)
Omar Richards started his footballing education at Fulham before switching boats to join London rivals Reading at the youth level in 2013. He represented the Berkshire outfit at the U-23 level before making his senior debut in the Championship during the 2017-18 season.
The left-back started only 17 league fixtures for Reading over the course of his first two seasons at the club but established himself as a key player last term, featuring 28 times in the Championship. Richards has taken his game to a whole new level since the appointment of Veljko Paunovic, starting each of the club’s 16 opening fixtures in the second-tier this season so far.
Richards has made a total of 79 appearances for Reading in all competitions, scoring thrice in the process. The youngster was also handed his debut for England U-21s last year as a result of his impressive progress at the club level.
Palace would benefit from Richards’ potential
Both West Ham and Crystal Palace have unearthed some exciting up and coming talents from the Championship in recent times. While the Hammers have roped in Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen, the likes of Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson arrived at Selhurst Park in the summer as a part of the Eagles’ recruitment drive.
Palace, though, apparently need Omar Richards more than West Ham, who already have two accomplished left-backs in the form of Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku. Roy Hodgson’s side, on the contrary, currently find themselves under pressure to cope with the impending departure of Patrick van Aanholt.
Van Aanholt has been a regular fixture down the left over the past few seasons but with the Dutch international out of contract in 2021, the Eagles certainly need to line up some alternatives in the winter window. Ferguson was roped in with one eye on the future but with the youngster yet to make his debut due to an injury, Palace need to keep their options open.
Putting things into context, Crystal Palace would bag a real coup if they manage to beat West Ham to the signature of Omar Richards in January. The Reading graduate has made significant strides in his development over the past 12 months to blossom into one of the best young full-backs in the second-tier.
The 22-year-old’s potential has been there for everyone to see and a successful career in the top-flight shouldn’t be beyond his reach if he gets the right kind of guidance. As evident from his heat map in the Championship this term, Richards is very much an attack-minded full-back who excels with his work rate at both ends of the pitch. He just needs to add a bit more end product to his game to make a big impact in the Premier League.
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Van Aanholt’s potential departure from Selhurst Park at the end of the season would leave Roy Hodgson with Nathan Ferguson, Tyrick Mitchell and Jeffrey Schlupp as feasible options at left-back. Considering that Ferguson and Mitchell are both inexperienced and Schlupp very much a utility man in the squad, the inclusion of Omar Richards could make a big difference.
The Reading starlet still has his best years ahead of him and Crystal Palace completing a deal for the 22-year-old could pay off handsomely for their long-term plans.