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.
Did you know?
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
What they’re saying
“Chris made a very good impression during his trial in Munich, so we’ve decided to bring him here and give him a chance to play for our U19s. We have a lot of confidence in him.” – Bayern youth director Jochen Sauer
“Chris made his jump very well today. It’s obviously not easy for him to join a team that’s played together for a long time. I’m very happy. He did a lot of things right and not that many things wrong. Everyone at Bayern is looking forward to his development.” – Bayern coach Niko Kovac
“It’s amazing. He’s a world-class player. A lot of my friends here are fans of him. It’s weird being able to sit and talk with him, and all my friends are fanboying over him,” – Richards on rubbing shoulders with David Alaba