The 13-cap England international joined the Villans on a free transfer ahead of the 2015/16 season, but despite being billed as a wise addition at the time, the 28-year-old was part of the worst backline in the division as the Midlands club slumped to the Championship.
However, reports claim Sunderland have not been put off by his wretched 12 months at Villa Park and are indeed ready to hand him a quick Premier League comeback.
The Black Cats are believed to be willing to trigger the £5m release clause in his contract, which would render Villa powerless in the battle to keep their defender, who is likely to be open to leaving the Birmingham outfit.
It’s understood that a move for Richards is being held up by Sunderland, with manager Sam Allardyce in discussions with the FA over the vacant England managerial position.
The burley enforcer was once tipped for a glittering career, but a series of injuries at Manchester City curtailed his development, while a loan move to Fiorentina in 2014/15 did little to change his fortunes.