Former Aston Villa defender Micah Richards has revealed that the club stood in the way of three possible exits after their relegation from the Premier League.
The 31-year-old announced his retirement from football earlier this summer having made just 31 appearances for Villa over the past four seasons.
Injury woes contributed to his struggles to play regularly, but Richards has now revealed that the club stopped him from joining West Ham, Sunderland and Orlando during his time at Villa Park as they believed that he was too important to let go.
“I can tell you a story about when I was going to West Ham after we got relegated. And Villa blocked me from going there,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live, as quoted by HITC. “I knocked on the door of Keith Wyness. He said, ‘We’ve had this offer but I don’t want you to go. You’re too much of an influence within the dressing room, you can’t go’.
“So I could have come out and said all these things but i’ve not said them in respect of the managers and team-mates at the time.
“I also had Orlando interested but they blocked that. And I had Sunderland who I could have gone to as well. They blocked all of these moves.”
Fortunately from a Villa perspective, they’ve managed to get back into the Premier League this year and have moved on from the group of players which struggled to avoid relegation initially before then toiling in the Championship.
Dean Smith now has a strong squad at his disposal with the club going in a different direction with a long-term strategy in mind, but as for Richards, he seemingly could have had a bit more time in the Premier League before his retirement had West Ham got their way.
The Hammers though were forced to go in a different direction and perhaps their fans will feel content with the defensive players that they’ve had in recent years over the prospect of having had Richards in the heart of their backline.