English defender Micah Richardsa career is set to get a huge boost, as he has been snapped-up by Premier League club Aston Villa on a free transfer, after his contract at Manchester City expired.

Another big career-change that Richards would be making is that Villa manager Tim Sherwood has promised to play him at the heart of the defence, instead of at full-back.

Richards had started out his career at Manchester City, as a centre-back, and was later moved to the full-back position, due to the requirements of the club.

However, as City grew into one of the best clubs in the Premier League, Richards found it increasingly tough to get regular playing-time. He had even taken a loan move to Italian Serie A side Fiorentina, in order to get more time on the pitch, last season. Richardsa time with the Viola always seemed to be numbered though, as he made only 10 appearances the entire season.

It was always clear that the 26-year-old would be looking for a move back to the Premier League, even though his contract at Manchester City had run out. The first hint that Richards would be moving to the Birmingham-based club was given by Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, who tweeted,

This was later confirmed by Aston Villa, who themselves announced their latest singing in a tweet.

a Aston Villa Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Micah Richards. The 26-year-old defender has agreed a four-year deal with the club and will join on a free transfer on July 1,a announced the club on their official website.

Richards is expected to strengthen Villaa s rear-guard, which was the third worst defence in the Premier League last season, conceding 57 goals in 38 matches.

Also, manager Sherwood is said to have been trying to sign the England defender, as Villa captain Ron Vlaar is yet to sign a new deal with the club, and is said to be looking at other options, according to The Daily Telegraph.

a Ia m really pleased to get Micah on board and Ia m sure he will prove to be an excellent signing for the football club,a said Sherwood on Villaa s official website.