Over the past few years, there has been an increasing number of young English players leaving for the continent in search of regular first-team football, and a good many of them have headed for Germany and the Bundesliga – and the odds on them getting more game time according to the latest betting tips are decent.
The big noise of course has been England international Jadon Sancho. Sancho joined Borussia Dortmund in 2017 from Manchester City aged just seventeen for a reported £8million, and was put straight into their first-team squad. Sancho has been a great success at the Westfalenstadion and has gone on to score 51 times in 150 appearances, becoming an England regular in the process.
Last July, Sancho was joined by another young English prospect Jude Bellingham, who signed for Die Schwarzgelben for a reported initial £25million. As with Sancho, Bellingham made his move aged seventeen, and went on to score on his Dortmund debut, becoming the club’s youngest ever goalscorer. To date, Bellingham has made 34 appearances, scoring twice.
Other young English players plying their trade in the Bundesliga include former West Ham United centre-half Reece Oxford, while in recent times Jonjoe Kenny and Ademola Lookman have enjoyed successful loan spells with Schalke and RB Leipzig respectively.
Last week, another young English talent committed his future to German football when Reading left-back Omar Richards put pen to paper on a pre-contract agreement with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. Richards will head to Munich in the summer after agreeing a four-year deal.
So who is Omar Richards, and what are Bayern Munich getting?
Richards joined Fulham aged ten, but he was released by the Cottagers at fifteen, subsequently signing for Reading. He joined the Royals as a left-sided forward, but the coaching staff at the Madejski Stadium converted him to a left-back. He was given his professional debut by then-manager Jaap Stam on the opening day of the 2017/18 season aged nineteen, and he has gone one to establish himself as a first-team regular, making almost 100 appearances, scoring 3 goals.
Richards is a strong and athletic defender, while he also still possesses his attacking instincts, and Bayern Munich see him as a good fit for the Bundesliga. Although it’s unlikely that Richards will be a first choice, with David Alaba leaving the Allianz Arena in the summer, Richards will go straight into the first-team squad and provide competition for first-choice left-back, Canadian international Alphonso Davies. In addition, with securing Richards on a free transfer, Bayern will probably be anticipating a significant profit in any potential future sale.
While the move is obviously great for Richards, it’s also a positive for English football on a number of levels. Jadon Sancho has clearly benefited from his time in Germany and has become a better player, which has had a positive impact on the England team, and it will be hoped that Richards will do the same. In addition, it’s also a vote of confidence in English coaching and the way that clubs – and not just the big clubs – are developing players.
Omar Richards is clearly one to watch for the future.