Carlo Ancelotti can forget about signing Omar Richards after the Reading defender reportedly agreed to join Bayern Munich and instead, he should focus his efforts on Everton prospect Niels Nkounkou.
According to Football Insider, Richards has agreed to sign a pre-contract with Bayern and will join the Bundesliga giants once his Reading deal expires at the end of the season.
The Royals full-back had been tracked by a number of Premier League sides due to his impending status as a free-agent, with Everton and West Ham United seen as the leading suitors from the English top-flight.
He is now expected to move to Bavaria in the summer barring a late twist, with the German powerhouse putting further plans into place to strengthen Hans-Dieter Flick’s defence after paying RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano’s €42.25m (£37m) release clause.
Bayern are said to consider Richards as competition for UEFA Men’s Team of the Year member Alphonso Davies, as they prepare to part with David Alaba in the summer.
Richards will sign a three-year contract at the Allianz Arena to scupper any hopes Reading had of retaining the left-back, who had also been tracked by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace.
The Royals had been keen to keep the England U21 international at the Madejski Stadium, but privately admitted that the EFL’s Profitability and Sustainability rules made it impossible for the Championship club to table a tempting enough offer, per Sky Sports.
While Bayern Munich are said to see Richards as competition for Davies and a replacement for Alaba, the Reading full-back could have been Everton’s long-term heir to Lucas Digne had the Goodison Park natives presented a convincing enough offer.
Instead, Ancelotti will need to move on from the 22-year-old, but he should now forget about the London-born left-back and focus his efforts on developing Nkounkou into becoming the eventual replacement for £30m-rated Digne.
The 20-year-old has rarely featured for the Blues since joining on a free transfer from Olympique de Marseille last summer, making only five first-team appearances and playing just 25 minutes across all competitions since November 1st.
But Nkounkou was pursued by the likes of RB Leipzig and Juventus last year as he is seen as having “lots of potential” and has the build of a Benjamin Mendy, for the former France U19 international is “strong, solid, good engine and can cover the whole flank all match,” according to French football journalist Jeremy Smith while speaking with The Athletic.
The 5 ft 10 full-back is far from the finished product, though, as while he can get forward and prove creative, he needs polishing defensively. And Ancelotti rounding off the edges could make Nkounkou into the diamond that Richards may have become in royal blue, had Everton been able to complete a deal.