The only thing Aston Villa fans want more than incoming transfer news is the departures of some of last year's flops. Now it seems Gabby Agbonlahor and Joleon Lescott are on their way but Micah Richards is going nowhere fast.
At least that's the word from BBC man Pat Murphy:
Understand Lescott & Agbonlahor r part of the @AVFCOfficial exit strategy,announced soon. Bit complicated at mo.But Richards in RDM's plans.— Pat Murphy (@patmurphybbc) 10 de agosto de 2016
That sounds logical after the arrivals of Ross McCormack and Tommy Elphick have strengthened Villa at forward and centre-back but cover remains thin at right-back where Richards can play.
With the departures of Brad Guzan, Idrissa Gana, Ciaran Clark, Scott Sinclair and Carlos Sanchez, new manager Roberto Di Matteo is opening up spaces in the squad for reinforcements. Murphy also tweeted:
Jedinak & Hernandez under review by @AVFCOfficial but no bids as yet for them. RDM considering others as well. Working thro' his list.— Pat Murphy (@patmurphybbc) 10 de agosto de 2016
Opinion - better late than never on Lescott and Gabby but Richards is not the solution at right-back
Few Villa fans will be unhappy to see the back of Lescott after the car Tweet incident and his generally poor performances. Though he might be able to do a job in the Championship, he has a toxic relationship with the fans and he should still go for a fee. It's better to start developing partnerships between Elphick and Nathan Baker or Jores Okore as part of the issue last season was the constant rotation in defence.
As for club captain Gabby, it's a sad end for the longest-serving player but saying it comes three seasons too late would be generous. His goal return has constantly diminished and his failure to keep fit was unprofessional. Offloading his reported £70,000 a week wages would be a big bonus though it might be tricky to negotiate his departure without the club paying at least part of his salary.
However the fact that Richards and his high wages will continue in the squad is worrying. He arrived apparently determined to make the centre-back position his own but constantly wandered out of position. He might be useful as cover but would be a wildly expensive fourth-choice central defender.
If Richards could recapture the form at right-back which made him a star at Manchester City he'd be a huge improvement over Alan Hutton whose effort can't mask his deficiencies. But there are worries about the injuries that saw him lose his place at City and he's not played consistently in the position for a couple of seasons. Villa need another right-back we can rely on to provide width lacking in midfield and it would be an expensive gamble to assume Richards can be that man.