Rico Richards signs first professional deal at West Brom
Promising young Albion starlet Rico Richards has signed a new three-year contract at the club.
The 16-year-old is considered one of Albion's brightest young talents, and had been linked with a move elsewhere with a number of rival clubs eyeing a move for the midfielder.
However, the youngster - who has been at the club since the age of seven, has committed his future to Slaven Bilic's side by signing his first professional contract with Albion.
Richards has already trained with the first-team squad under Bilic, and has represented the club at U16, U18 and U23 level - and has also featured for England at youth level.
"This is great news for the club and exciting for all concerned." Academy manager Richard Stevens said.
"It's not a secret that we have lost some young players to other clubs in recent times. But this shows the continuing commitment of the Club to the programme and it's great for the Academy to see that the pathway for elite young footballers remains clear."
“He’s had an injury to cope with too so it has been a hectic year for him despite the pandemic.
“Rico is a creative player who can make things happen and we are looking forward to continuing his development.
“He will need a good pre-season, as will all of the Academy players, because of the disruption to the programme caused by Covid. However, we don’t have to rush things and can build up gradually.
“But he’s got some targets that will suit him and if we can get him around that first team group so much the better.”
Richards earned his first senior call-up to the Albion squad this season, being named in the squad for the club's FA Cup win over Charlton Athletic.
The youngster admits he'd delighted to pledge his future to the team, and is looking forward to developing further in the Black Country.
“I’m delighted that everything has been sorted out and I can now get on with my football." he said.
“I can’t wait to get started again – I just want to keep on developing my game and Albion is the best place for me to do that. It’s an exciting time for the club.”
Albion sporting director Luke Dowling added: “It’s great news for the club and I’m delighted for Richard who has worked hard to ensure Rico saw his future path with us."
“It’s an important decision for Rico and his family and now we need to let the fuss die down a little, get him back on to the pitch and see if – as we believe – he can get in and around that first team group.”