West Ham almost signed a former Premier League title winner back in 2016. Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards has faded into obscurity during an injury ridden spell with Aston Villa, but could have still been competing in the Premier League if this proposed deal had not been blocked.
According to the Daily Mail, Villa had the chance to get Richards off their books in 2016 when West Ham came knocking for the defender. But then-manager Roberto Di Matteo blocked the move.
After a year spent on loan at Fiorentina, Richards left Manchester City permanently in 2015 when he signed a four-year-deal with Aston Villa. Richards would be relegated with Villa in his first season at the club, which opened the door for the Hammers to make a move.
West Ham were reportedly willing to double Richards wages, which had been reduced due to Villa's drop into the Championship. The Hammers wanted to take him on a season-long loan in view of a permanent move. Instead, Di Matteo blocked the move as he wanted Richards as cover for Tommy Elphick and Nathan Baker.
This decision did not work out for Di Matteo or Aston Villa. By October of that year, Di Matteo was sacked as manager and Richards picked up a calf injury. Richards has not made an appearance for Villa since. A persistent knee issue has meant the 29-year-old has gone 500 days and 73 matches without playing a game.
The same report claims that Di Matteo's successor, Steve Bruce, has been reluctant to play Richards as he is concerned that his fitness cannot cope with two games a week.
The decision ultimately worked out well for West Ham, who avoided having to pay wages to player who would be sidelined for a lengthy period of time. Meanwhile, Aston Villa are pushing for promotion back to the Premier League. The Villans are four points adrift of an automatic promotion place.