Aston Villa Continue Assimilation of West Brom’s Academy With Another Signing

Rico Richards Signs for Aston Villa

Aston Villa has confirmed today that they have reached a two-year agreement with Rico Richards, the 19-year-old attacking midfielder whose contract had expired at West Brom.

Richards had been making decent progress at Albion, making his debut for their first team in the Championship last season. He will now join Villa’s Under-21 squad, as reports last week suggested was likely.

Baggies to Villa Trend

The move follows on from last month’s transfer of 16-year-old Baggies academy star, Jamaldeen Jimoh. The package for the England Under-17s player is thought to be ¬£1m all-in. The move for free agent Richards will certainly be seen as a lower risk move. The fact that he got game time in the Baggies first team (albeit a 10-minute cameo), will suggest he should progress enough to at least fetch a fee for the club, if he doesn’t ultimately make it at Villa.

In addition to Jimoh, Richards joins Tim Iroegbunam and Finn Azaz in making the switch from West Brom to Villa. Finley Thorndike also made the move recently but was swiftly farmed off to the Blues.

The Richards move continues Aston Villa’s somewhat unashamed assimilation of West Brom’s academy talent, which has been something of a policy since the NSWE take over of Villa.

In Fan Advisory Board meetings, it has been suggested by the outgoing Villa CEO, that one way to improve Aston Villa Football Club quickly is to look at local best practices. While Villa has sought to improve their women’s team by drawing from Birmingham City, notably taking their coach Carla Ward, they have turned to West Brom’s successful development and academy programs for talent, exemplified by Louie Barry being signed by Barcelona (before he end up at Villa).

This approach also extends to the background staff. Villa hopes to eventually eliminate the need for intermediaries from their neighbour middleman when it comes to recruiting talent. Mark Harrison, former Albion academy boss, currently heads Villa’s academy, and Stephen Hopcroft, also a former Baggie, is the Head of Player Talent ID.


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