By Callum O'Connell

5th Jul, 2023 | 6:10pm

Rico Richards can be next Jacob Ramsey after Aston Villa transfer news

New Aston Villa signing Rico Richards could follow the same trajectory as academy graduate star Jacob Ramsey, with first-team potential already in mind.

Richards has joined Aston Villa from Birmingham rivals West Brom, and will look to follow the trajectory of Villa star Ramsey, with the opportunity open for pre-season minutes following Ramsey’s injury he picked up while playing for England U21s [The Athletic, 4 July].

The signing was announced via Aston Villa’s website as an academy signing, but after making multiple appearances for West Brom’s first team, Richards will be looking to break into the first-team setup at Villa Park too.

The similarities between Richards and Ramsey go beyond their involvement in Villa’s academy. Ramsey excels on the ball, with his 3.21 progressive carries in the top 96% of midfielders in the Premier League, while Richards has been described as a “tricky” player whose “fast dribbling ability” and “good close control” catches the eye [West Brom website].

Richards’ mentality at just 19 years old is of a senior professional, with a clear belief and confidence in himself that should see him capitalise on any opportunity he is given.

Speaking via Birmingham Live following his maiden first-team appearance under Carlos Corberan for West Brom in a defeat at Hull City, Richards stated: “I would like to think my opportunity was deserved because I feel as though I have been playing well in the PL2 side and I’ve been training with the senior side a lot too. I’m really grateful to have been given the chance to play in the Championship.”

This mentality of believing he deserved his first-team chance, rather than simply being grateful to have been selected, provides an insight into the strong mind of such a young man, which could set him up brilliantly for future success.

Richards is poised for first-team chances

It was revealed by Villa Academy manager Mark Harrison that it was Richards’ choice to join the club, and he was very keen to arrive despite having several options elsewhere. This could point to potential assurances over his involvement in the first team, or a view to be involved down the line.

With the unfortunate news of Ramsey’s injury set to keep the England youth international out of action until the start of the season, pre-season preparations could provide the new arrival with an opportunity to stake his claim.

Richards himself has been capped by England at youth level, representing the U16, U17 and U18 sides, and will be aiming to take the step up to the U21s as his new teammate has done in the coming seasons.

Ramsey, who is three years Richards’ senior, was phased into first-team football similarly to the new academy arrival, making his Championship debut aged just 17, but it was a loan move with Doncaster Rovers, where he scored three goals from midfield in just seven appearances, that really brought his name forward as a potential first-team star.

Richards should look to follow the path of his new teammate and learn from his journey as he forges his own route into the Villa side, he could eventually be the new Ramsey.

In other Aston Villa news, Unai Emery is key to the club’s ambitious summer transfer plans.