Former Arsenal icon Patrick Vieira could be set to grow in confidence on the touchline in the 2022-23 Premier League season after Crystal Palace showed considerable promise under the Frenchman; promise that could extend beyond last term as the Eagles continue to put faith in their current transfer remit.
The Eagles have begun to stockpile young talent at Selhurst Park under Vieira last season after the prior year saw the opening moves of their long-term plan spring into motion with the promotion of academy product Tyrick Mitchell and a deal for QPR’s Eberechi Eze.
Last summer saw Palace add Marc Guéhi, Odsonne Edouard, Michael Olise, Luke Plange, and Conor Gallagher (on loan), with it becoming ever-more clear that the capital club was building for a brighter future.
The current summer transfer window has seen much of the same from Palace after moving for RC Lens’ standout midfielder Cheick Doucouré and former Derby Country starlet Malcolm Ebiowei, with Vieira now being able to add United States international Chris Richards to the senior squad.
A product of the vaunted FC Dallas youth academy setup, Richards (22) rose through the ranks at the MLS outfit before making a massive jump to Bayern Munich in 2018 where he eventually made his first-team debut in 2020.
But his future always seemed to be away from Bavaria, and two separate loan stints with fellow Bundesliga outfit TSG 1899 Hoffenheim followed between 2020-22, with his 19 appearances in Sinsheim last season providing a proving ground for his potential.
Bayern cashed in, however, after Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit was gifted Dutch international star Matthijs de Ligt this summer to replace Borussia Dortmund-bound Niklas Süle, with De Ligt added to a cadre of central defenders that also includes Dayot Upamecano, Lucas Hernández, and Tanguy Nianzou.
In short, first-team minutes would be limited for Richards, who is now one of the four main center-back options under Vieira in the English capital.
When speaking with the club’s official website, Richards mentioned the youthful exuberance that is showcased throughout the senior squad, stating “The kind of project I’ve seen [attracted me]. It’s a lot of young players but also young players who have a lot of fight. Palace is a club that seems like they’re always fighting.”
Club chairman Steve Parish was equally excited to welcome Richards to the club; “Chris is a hugely talented young player, and he brings a lot of experience at a high level for his age, as well being an established International for the USA national side.”
“I had the great pleasure of spending some time with him and his family yesterday and I know he will be a great fit for the club and I’m sure will become a firm fans’ favourite. Competition can only drive him and our squad on.”
With Richards a part of a defensive pecking order that includes the aforementioned Guéhi as well as Danish international Joachim Andersen, and England youth international Nathan Ferguson - all of whom are likely ahead of veteran James Topkins - Richards should arrive with every opportunity to stake a place as part of Vieira’s preferred XI in the upcoming Premier League campaign.