In one of the more surprising Arsenal transfers on deadline day, the club confirmed the permanent departure of young talent Amani Richards.
A few minutes after the January transfer window closed, Arsenal posted to confirm the departure of Amani Richards to Leicester City.
The club added it would be a permanent move, wishing the player luck. Leicester themselves are still yet to post an update on the transfer.
The move was unexpected for a number of reasons. There were no rumours leading up to it, Richards had only joined the club in February 2021, and he signed a professional contract with Arsenal in November.
You would’ve thought he’d have stuck around until at least the end of the season after that.
On the other hand, it’s been clear all season that things weren’t going as planned for Richards.
The young striker made an immediate impact at Arsenal in the latter stages of last season, scoring three goals in three u18 games and even making a brief cameo appearance in an u23 match.
Yet he struggled to break into the u18 side this campaign, generally consigned to the bench whilst Khayon Edwards racked up 18 goals and five assists. It’s certainly not hard to see how Edwards held onto his spot up front.
In all competitions, Richards made nine appearances this season, scoring one goal.
The forward drew blanks in his only two league starts, which were heavy defeats to Chelsea and West Ham. He was then completely absent for their most recent game as Arsenal turned things around to thrash Chelsea 4-0.
This isn’t to say Richards isn’t a good talent. In his early games for Arsenal, the striker looked one of the best of the bunch, and he’s shown glimpses of that again this season – despite some costly missed chances.
For whatever reason, it just hasn’t been working out at Arsenal in the last few months. Richards had an opening to make a fresh start with Leicester City and he’s taken it.
There’s going to be some understandable confusion about why Arsenal signed Richards to a professional deal in November and then sold him so soon afterwards.
The most obvious explanation is that it meant Arsenal could bring in some money for the player’s departure. Chris Wheatley has confirmed the club received a fee for Richards, meaning they will have made a small profit on him over the last 12 months.
The new deal was also a bit of a formality. Richards signed the contract in November because that’s when he turned 17.
Arsenal likely had the deal lined up for him from the moment he joined (it may even have been agreed back in February), he just couldn’t sign it until his birthday.
It’s surprising Arsenal have let Richards go so soon, but perhaps they believe it’s a deal that suits all parties.
Arsenal cash in on a player who wasn’t featuring much, trimming an overstuffed squad. Richards gets to go and play more regularly. Leicester complete the signing they wanted. Let’s just hope the Gunners don’t regret it.