Aston Villa sign defender Micah Richards

Aston Villa have signed English defender Micah Richards on a four-year-deal. He will transfer to the Villans for free on 1 July when his contract with Manchester City ends.

Villa are offering Richards a chance to play in the centre of their defence rather than as a fullback, the position he ended up playing for City despite beginning his career as a centre-half.

This agreement casts further doubts on Ron Vlaar’s future at Villa Park as his contract nears its expiration and manager Tim Sherwood looks elsewhere for defensive talent.

Richards made his Premier League debut for the Sky Blues in October 2005. Since then, he has made nearly 250 appearances for the club, winning the FA Cup with City in 2011, and being a part of City’s league winning sides of 2011-12 and 2013-14.

The 26-year-old has spent the past year on loan in Serie A with Fiorentina, but with interest from Sunderland, Everton, West Ham United and of course, Aston Villa, it was likely he would remain in the Premier League.

Sherwood said of Villa’s first signing of the summer, “I’m really pleased to get Micah on board and I’m sure he will prove to be an excellent signing for the football club.”