Chris Richards is heading elsewhere for the remainder of the season.
The U.S. men's national team and Bayern Munich defender has joined Hoffenheim on loan through the end of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season, making the move on transfer deadline day in Germany. Richards, 20, should have a much clearer path to first-team minutes at Hoffenheim, which has been hit hard by injuries and needs the defensive reinforcements. The loan reportedly does not come with an option to buy, meaning Richards will return to Bayern this summer.
Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen called Richards "an important and valuable option in the central defender position" in translated remarks. Richards just made his senior U.S. national team debut in November, and he had broken through with Bayern's first team to make appearances across its back line. He moves to a club Bayern just beat, remaining on the bench for Saturday's 4-1 win.
As a result of the move, Richards won't be traveling with Bayern to the FIFA Club World Cup, where it will look to continue Europe's domination of the annual competition featuring continental champions.
So far this season, Richards has made three Bundesliga appearances (one start), totaling just 88 minutes. He's also appeared in three Champions League games (one start) for a total of 128 minutes and came on to close out Bayern's win over Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup. He's primarily been playing for Bayern's second team, which competes in Germany's third tier.
"Chris is a great talent," Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said in a statement. "He was a top performer in central defense for our reserves in the third division and has gained experience with the first team, even in the Champions League. Together we decided Chris will use the months in Hoffenheim for the next stage of his development. We're sure TSG will get a lot from him."
An Alabama native, Richards came through FC Dallas's academy and initially was loaned to Bayern as part of a partnership between the two clubs before signing on a permanent transfer in January 2019.
"I'm looking forward to taking the next steps in my development in Hoffenheim," Richards said. "It's important I pick up more match practice in the Bundesliga now. I have big goals and I'd like to progress at FC Bayern."