Jose has been brought in on loan from Real Sociedad, with the option to buy for £22million in the summer.
The 29-year-old Brazilian bolsters the strikeforce after the injury to Raul Jimenez and subsequent slide in the Premier League.
And Richards, who scored 194 goals for Wolves, said: “Those are the sort of players that are needed in the Premier League.
“That’s the difference between being near the top or middling, which is where Wolves are at the moment.
“I think he’s going to give them a great boost. When you look at the lad’s pedigree, he’s a regular scorer.
“He’s scored every third game in La Liga, which is very impressive.
“In the Premier League, it’s fine margins and Wolves, with the knock of losing Jimenez, have lost their edge.
“So, they just need this boost, and the lad has got the pedigree to give them that.”
Jose – not expected to feature against Chelsea tomorrow while his work permit is sorted – scored 62 times in 170 appearances for Sociedad.
“He’ll have an impact on the other players, too,” said Richards.
“The team has not been firing on all cylinders – maybe lacking in confidence – and not doing things naturally like they used to.
“They’ve just got to get back to that and someone like Willian coming in should give them that quality – a natural, proven scorer at the top level.”
He added: “Sometimes that freshness is all you need to give a team a boost.
“He’s got to adjust to Nuno’s style of play as he’ll have been playing a different style with Real Sociedad.
"But when you have someone of that age, experience and quality, it won’t take long. The sooner they get him in, the better.”
Meanwhile, Wolves are in talks with Udinese over another loan move back to Italy for Patrick Cutrone.
The 23-year-old, who was recalled from Fiorentina earlier this month, is free to head out again after Wolves sealed the signing of Jose.