David Moyes’ rumoured pursuit of Reading full-back Omar Richards will struggle to improve West Ham United for years.
According to The Reading Chronicle, London rivals Crystal Palace and West Ham are interested in a potential deal to lure Richards away from Reading and into the Premier League.
The Eagles have held a long-term interest in the 22-year-old, though now face competition from the London Stadium after Irons chiefs approached the Royals to discuss their defender’s availability ahead of the January window.
But Reading are not prepared to discuss Richards’ situation at present, as the Madejski Stadium natives are awaiting clarification over the left-back’s preference to stick or twist amid ongoing discussions over a new contract.
Talks are said to be in the very early stages yet are expected to be based around a four-year deal, as the Championship outfit strive to lock their prized asset down beyond his current terms that expire at the end of the season.
Richards, who graduated from Reading’s academy to make his senior debut in 2017, is also said to have been watched by half-a-dozen Premier League sides over the last couple of weeks, per TEAMtalk, ahead of prospective winter bids.
Richards has been an integral aspect of Reading manager Veljko Paunovic’s plans this season, with the England U21 international starting all eight of his side’s Championship fixtures and is yet to miss a second of second-tier action.
Would the 22-year-old be needed in Moyes’ plans is a different matter, though, as Richards is yet to register a single assist and offered no creativity last term with zero goals or assists to his name over 28 league outings of which 15 came at left-midfield.
The London-born defender’s records are not blank through his teammate’s failures, either, as Richards has averaged just 0.3 key balls, 0.4 accurate crosses and zero shots a game in the Championship this term, per SofaScore, while making 2.3 successful dribbles and playing 16.1 of his 32.8 accurate passes in the opponent’s half.
Defensively, Richards stands far stronger with 2.9 tackles, 2.1 clearances, 1.5 interceptions and wins 8.9 duels a game (7.9 ground, 1.0 aerial), but it could take years before the 22-year-old makes an impact at the London Stadium should he be signed in January or next summer.
Plus, it was Richards’ offensive threat that saw him progress into being a first-team regular at the Madejski Stadium, with former Reading boss Mark Bowen stating in November 2019 via quotes by Wokingham.Today: “Special mention for Omar, a young lad coming into the side, I thought he was outstanding today.
“Everyone knows he’s good going forward, but defensively he went in and won tackles he wasn’t favourite to win. Numerous times he got into positions to win the ball back which fills me with pride.”
Where Richards would fit into Moyes’ plans, clearly, remains to be seen if West Ham are to return with another approach once Reading have greater clarity over the full-back’s intentions.