Manchester City defender Micah Richards looks set to choose the sunny climes of Florence over a stay in either east London or Wearside, amid reports suggesting the 26-year-old is set to complete a surprise move to Serie A.
Richards, who turned down a new contract at the Etihad, has reportedly flown to Italy to hold talks with representatives from Fiorentina over a potential move.
According to reports, the one-time England international will move to Serie A on a season-long loan deal that will contain an option for the Viola to make the move permanent.
The deal ends any hopes West Ham or Sunderland may have had in signing the Premier League winner.
Gustavo Poyet was thought to be keen on bringing Richards to the Stadium of Light on a permanent deal, as he looks to steer the Black Cats clear of any relegation dogfight this term.
Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, was willing to take the 26-year-old on loan after seeing his Hammers side lose 3-1 to Southampton at Upton Park last time out in the Premier League.
But both sides look set to miss out with Richards choosing to follow the path taken by former Arsenal and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole with a move to Italy.
Cole signed for AS Roma on a free transfer over the summer and could well link up socially with Richards, having worked alongside the defender on duty for England over the years.
Richards isn’t the only fotmer Manchester resident on the books at Fiorentina either, with ex-Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi also on the books at the Serie A club.
The pair will hope to fire the Viola to Champions League qualification under manager Vincenzo Montella, having just fallen short of that target last term.
Fiorentina made a poor start to the season, however, going down 2-0 to AS Roma in the opening weekend of the season.
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