Micah Richards: Di Matteo did not let me join West Ham from Villa

Micah Richards reveals Roberto Di Matteo blocked a move from Aston Villa to West Ham in 2016 because he needed his ‘experience’ in the dressing room as he claims they REFUSED to ‘offload him’… and preferred him to stay and not play!

  • Micah Richards lifted lid on why he stayed at Aston Villa despite lack of minutes
  • Richards won Premier League twice, FA Cup and League Cup with Man City 
  • Villa were relegated from England’s top flight when Richards was skipper
  • Former defender was close to joining West Ham but Villa refused to let him go 

Micah Richards has lifted the lid on why he remained at Aston Villa despite limited game time in his four years at the club.

The former defender was Villa captain when they were relegated from the Premier League in the 2015-16 season with some fans associating that woeful campaign with Richards.

The Englishman, who won the Premier League twice, FA Cup and League Cup with Manchester City prior to joining Aston Villa in 2015, has opened up on why he remained at Villa Park.   

Micah Richards has lifted the lid on why he remained at Aston Villa despite limited game time

Richards was captain when Villa were relegated from the Premier League in 2015-16 season

Roberto Di Matteo intervened to block Richards’ possible switch to West Ham back in 2016

Roberto Di Matteo replaced Remi Garde at Villa for the 2016-17 campaign and the manager intervened to block a possible switch for Richards to West Ham.  

‘So Di Matteo comes in and I explained the situation about my knee and said, “West Ham want me,”‘ Richards said in an interview on the FilthyFellas YouTube channel.

‘And he says, “Well, I’m not letting you go.” I said, “What do you mean?”

‘And he said, “You’re too much of an influence in the dressing room. If I lose you I’m going to lose the whole squad.”

‘I said, “Am I going to be starting then? I can’t play all of the games but am I going to be starting like Saturday to Saturday?’

‘He said no so I said, “So you want me to be a cheerleader, then? Is that what you want me to say?”

‘He goes, “Nah, I need your experience.”

Villa’s then manager wanted Richards as cover for defenders Tommy Elphick and Nathan Baker

The Hammers were offering Richards twice his Villa salary for a 12-month loan with a view to a permanent deal, but Villa’s then manager wanted him as cover for Tommy Elphick and Nathan Baker.

‘So, on deadline day, West Ham put an offer through to Aston Villa and the club are mulling over it thinking… But what a lot of people don’t know is Aston Villa got me for free so all it’d cost is wages for that season,’ Richards continued.

‘They could have offloaded me. If I was this big problem Aston Villa fans thought I was they could have offloaded me.

‘(Di Matteo) may as well have wanted me as assistant manager! He basically wanted me as third-choice behind Tommy Elphick and Nathan Baker.’

Keith Wyness, who was Villa’s chief executive at the time, also refused to let Richards leave

Richards’ career was plagued by knee injuries and he was not in a position to be playing three games a week. However, he’s revealed that Villa were more than happy to keep him at the club and not play. 

‘On transfer deadline day again, Keith Wyness was the chief executive or sporting director or whatever you want to call it. I go to Villa Park and say, “Look, I can’t play two games within a week. If you don’t let me go now I’m not going to be able to be anything to you. I’m not going to be an asset for you unless you agree to play me once a week,”‘ Richards said.

‘So, I got this offer from West Ham and I said, “Can I leave?” and he said the exact same thing as Di Matteo; “No, we can’t let you go.”

‘So I said, “You just want me to be in the changing room and not play” and he pretty much said, “Yes!” That’s no word of a lie.’

Richards won the Premier League twice with Man City before joining Villa in 2015

Richards made 28 appearances for Villa in his first season at the club but played just three games in the campaign after Villa refused to let him leave. He sustained a knee injury but he did not get a look in once fit in the second half of the 2016-17 season.

The following year he played no minutes of football, featuring just once on the bench in a League Cup clash.

Richards, who earned 13 England caps, announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 31 in July 2019 after he was released by Villa with his last competitive game in October 2016. He took up an off-the-field role at former club City before becoming a pundit. 

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