The 25-year-old has committed his future to the club he supported as a boy, with speculation regarding a move elsewhere brought to a close.
Serious questions had been asked of Grealish’s ongoing presence at Villa Park in 2019-20 as Dean Smith’s battled bravely to beat the drop.
Manchester United were heavily linked with an approach for the classy playmaker, but ended up finding considerable value in Bruno Fernandes.
As their interest waned, and with Villa still in the Premier League, Grealish decided to stay put.
Richards hopes he does not live to regret that big career call, with Pep Guardiola having mulled over the option of adding another match-winner to his ranks at the Etihad Stadfium.
Former City and Villa defender Richards told the Daily Mail of Grealish: “Personally, I’m delighted for him. He’s a lovely lad who you cannot help but like.
“I’m impressed, too, with the way Villa have invested this summer and I’m confident they will stay up again. It’s a huge help that all questions about his future have been put aside. He is going to thrive.
“Part of me wonders, though, whether this deal means he has missed his chance to play for a top Premier League club.
“Manchester United’s interest in him was well trailed through the summer but, for one reason or another, speculation did not result in a move to Old Trafford.
“Plenty of clubs have looked at Jack down the years. My understanding is there was some recent interest from Manchester City and if anyone had asked my opinion, my reply would have been short: ‘Sign him!’ I’m not being disrespectful to Villa, I’m just saying he has what it takes to play at the very top.
“I was told Tottenham also bid in the region of £15 million for him one summer, which Villa deemed too low. Maybe £5m more would have been enough and you have to think that such an investment would now have been worth treble that. That’s how much he has progressed.
“I am totally convinced he has got the talent to be at the top level. I’m delighted for him on a personal level that he is happy and has reached an agreement with the club. Still, part of me – and I expected many other football fans – would be intrigued to see him on the biggest stage.”
Grealish’s only experience away from Villa Park came during a loan spell at Notts County in 2013-14, with a man who now captains the club he supports having taken in 226 appearances for the Villans – registering 26 goals and 31 assists along the way.