By Jonty Banks

28th Jun, 2023 | 2:10pm

Aston Villa look to humble West Brom academy once again as Rico Richards transfer news emerges

Aston Villa seem intent on poaching yet another of West Brom’s former academy talents with the signing of England youth international Rico Richards.

Richards, who joined the Baggies’ academy at the age of seven, penned a contract at The Hawthorns back in 2020 and has since featured for the Under-16, 18s and 23s whilst also being included in two match day squads for FA Cup bouts.

Birmingham Live reported that Villa are interested in signing the Englishman this summer and a deal should be completed if terms can be agreed.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday (28 June), journalist John Townley wrote: “Aston Villa are interested in signing Rico Richards after he left West Brom at the end of last season.

“The 19-year-old attacking midfielder made his league debut for West Brom in March and has represented England at youth level.”

The fleet-footed playmaker made his debut for West Brom in the Championship last season when he came on as a late substitute in a 2-0 defeat to Hull City in March, while also appearing under Valerien Ismael in the 6-0 EFL Cup defeat to Arsenal in 2021.

If Richards were to seal a move to Villa Park, he would tread the same path as several Baggies academy graduates over the past few years.

Aston Villa have humbled their local rivals through the poaching of their brightest academy talents in recent times, with the likes of Tim Iroegbunam, Finn Azaz, Finley Thorndike, Triston Rowe all making the move across the West Midlands, with Jamal Jimoh also close to a £1million transfer this summer.

The latter had been tracked by the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham but is set to complete his transfer to Villa Park in the current transfer window.

The interest in Richards is yet another sign that Aston Villa remain intent on improving the Bodymoor Heath academy set-up at every juncture possible.

Sales such as Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100million and Carney Chukwuemeka to Chelsea for £20million highlight the profit that can be made from a well-oiled academy, and Villa aren’t holding back in their attempts to produce a conveyor belt of talent at the club.

In other Aston Villa news, big-name signings are now on the cards after a behind-the-scenes arrival at Villa Park.