The departure of Omar Richards in the summer was hard to take for many Reading fans.
Firstly, the 23-year-old was one of their academy graduates and made the left-back spot his own during the 2021/22 season, putting in sensational performances in defence and being partly responsible for the Royals’ vastly improved league finish last term.
Secondly, he left on the expiration of his contract at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, meaning they didn’t get a penny for him despite seeing him sign for former Champions League winners Bayern Munich after establishing himself as one of the second-tier’s standout full-backs.
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Despite this gut-wrenching blow, a sizeable chunk of the Berkshire outfit’s fanbase wished him all the best and were keen to see how he would adapt to life in Germany, competing for a first-team spot against world-class Canadian Alphonso Davies at the Allianz Arena.
Because of his lack of experience at the highest level, there were doubts over his first-team prospects under Julian Nagelsmann despite the obvious talent he possesses, but how has the former Royal managed to get on in a new country, with a new manager and a new set of teammates? We take a closer look.
He may have only may two competitive appearances for the current Bundesliga champions thus far, finding himself behind Davies for much of the campaign, but he’s been in their matchday squad for five of their six German top-division games and played a full 45 minutes of football in the 7-0 hammering of VfL Bochum in mid-September.
Already 5-0 up at half-time, Richards came on for Davies and helped to keep a clean sheet at the back as his side went on to score two more through Robert Lewandowski and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the latter of whom also played for a current English Championship side in the past with Stoke City.
The 23-year-old made an even bigger impact in the DFB-Pokal, making his first competitive start back in August against Bremer SV, who currently ply their trade in the fifth tier of German football.
It was perhaps no surprise then to see Bayern go on and record a 12-0 win. Richards may not have managed to get himself on the scoresheet, but he did provide a smart headed assist for former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane to make it 8-0 in the 65th minute and could potentially make the bench for their Sunday afternoon tie against Frankfurt.
So overall, he’s had a reasonably decent time and has been firmly in Julian Nagelsmann’s first-team plans despite many people predicting he would go out on loan.
He gets to wear the number three shirt at the Allianz Arena too. It’s a big responsibility, but he hasn’t conceded a goal in either of his appearances and has an assist to his name, not too shabby considering it’s still early days.
And perhaps most importantly, the 23-year-old seems to be enjoying his time in Germany already despite how big this life-changing move was, but he will be hoping to remain in the first team for the foreseeable future.
If he does manage to make a breakthrough, an England call-up could potentially be on the horizon.