Bayern Munich may have signed one of Major League Soccer’s most exciting prospects in Alphonso Davies – the 17-year-old winger who will join from Vancouver Whitecaps in January – but for those who have been following the Bavarians at the International Champions Cup this summer, it is readily apparent that they’ve already unravelled a star-spangled talent in the shape of Chris Richards.
Country: USA (U19)
Richards, alongside FC Dallas colleague Thomas Roberts, spent 10 days on trial at Bayern in May as part of an academy agreement between the two clubs. The centre-back, who stands at 6’2”-tall, impressed the coaches at Säbener Strasse sufficiently to be handed a one-year loan deal at the start of July, and less than two weeks later he was thrust into Bayern’s first-team, playing the final half-hour of the German champions’ 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 18 years, three months and 24 days. Impressive performances against Juventus and Manchester City followed, and the future already looks bright.
Plays a bit like: Jerome Boateng
A self-confessed fan of his now-Bayern teammate Jerome Boateng, Richards does share a few similar traits with the six-time Bundesliga champion. Both are quick given their formidable frames, while Richards’ reading of the game has impressed. He may not have the heat-seeking long-ball accuracy that Boateng boasts, but early signs are that Richards is on the right track.
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Bayern have been better with Richards in their team than without this summer. Niko Kovac’s side were drawing 1-1 with PSG when the youngster replaced Javi Martinez but went on to win 3-1. The Bavarians may have been beaten 2-0 by Juventus, meanwhile, but they kept a clean sheet in the second half with Richards on. City scored three in Richards’ only 90 minutes to date, but the record is clear:
With Richards this summer: 3 goals conceded, 4 scored
Without: 6 conceded, 3 scored