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Liverpool planning £15m swoop for Manchester City’s Micah Richards?


By Siobhan McCall

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has made no secret of his desire to bring more British talent to Anfield, and with the new Premier League ruling that requires all clubs to include a minimum of eight home-grown players in their squad of twenty-five, the issue has become all the more pressing. So it’s no surprise to hear that Manchester City’s Micah Richards is the latest in a long line of English stars to be linked with the club. Rumours today suggest that the Reds are ready to enter a £15m battle with Spurs for the signature of the twenty-two-year old defender who broke into the City first team when he was seventeen and has eleven England caps.

The reason behind much of this transfer speculation is Jerome Boateng’s arrival at Eastlands in a £10.4m deal from Bundesliga side SV Hamburg. The German international, who started five out of his country’s seven games in the 2010 World Cup, is a versatile defender; he played in a variety of positions across the back four for his previous club and became first choice left-back during the later stages in South Africa. With Micah Richards being similarly versatile and failing to cement his favoured centre-back role in Roberto Mancini’s side last season , there’s a feeling that he may be pushed aside in favour of the young German, especially since Richards failed to even make England’s provisional World Cup squad whilst Boateng came back with a bronze medal.

It seems, however, that Mancini is unwilling to sell as he sees Micah as one for the future and a club source described him as;

A key part of Roberto’s plans.

This is understandable as City are not under any financial pressure, and they are going to want to hold on to players like Richards, who have shown potential and are a strong backup for the first choices. Considering the criticism he’s received about being lazy and lacking concentration, he still featured in twenty-three league games for the side which finished fifth, suggesting that his manager does indeed have faith in him. I think it will be up to Micah to instigate a move and perhaps the main inspiration for this would be to secure his place as an England regular in time for Euro 2012, having only featured in the under 21‘s over the last year.

Although he’s one of those typical strong defenders who probably could play well alongside Martin Skrtel and would be good for a powerful header, something the Red’s have missed after Sami Hyypia’s departure to Bayer Leverkusen, I don’t think the defence should be top of Liverpool’s priorities at this moment. It’s not so much to do with his quality but more the cost of a potential transfer, with figures of around £15m being quoted to secure his services. Last season, away from home, Liverpool had the third best defence and the number of goals they conceded at Anfield wasn’t too disheartening either. But goals scored is another story, in particular their away record of 18, only one better than relegated Burnley and 17 off the pace of champions Chelsea.

It’s been well documented that Hodgson may not have much of a budget this summer and if this is the case, he needs to reinforce the areas that need it most, and under such circumstances spending around £15m on a defender, who isn’t particularly attack-minded and who might not even become a first team regular, doesn’t sound like the wisest of moves. Richards has been playing right-back for City and Liverpool have got their own Englishman, Glen Johnson, who showed signs of real creativity last year, to play this position and I believe he still has a lot to offer. What Liverpool need are reinforcements for the midfield, in particular a player who can become a regular down the left flank and more than anything a strike partner for Fernando Torres. I’d be happy to have just one or two signings of this mould and leave the defence as it is, unless Hodgson can secure someone he sees potential in, on the cheap, or if he can do some great haggling with his North West rivals.

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