Could wonderkid Renato Sanches bring something new to Fernando Santos’s Portugal squad? His role in the team could be crucial, writes Sam May.
Born in the rundown suburbs of Lisbon, the youngster has over taken Cristiano Ronaldo to become the youngest player to feature at a major tournament for Portugal.
To think it has taken just 19 months for the 18-year old to really emerge onto the scene and now the International stage. In October 2014 he featured for Benfica’s youth side against rivals Sporting and May 2016, he is signing for Bayern Munich for €35 million. The deal could also rise to €45 million in add-ons depending on how many Allianz appearances he makes. Not letting the limelight change him, he is a grounded individual, mature well beyond his years.
He joined Benfica youth from Musgueira for €750,000 in 2006, aged nine, and last season at 18, he made 47 appearances for the first team.
A fan favourite at the Estádio da Luz, and the fact is if your good enough, your old enough some would suggest. October 2015 saw Sanches make his debut, by November he was featuring in the Champions League playing against Galatasaray and FC Astana. He later helped his team secure a third Primeira Liga title, won the Taca da Liga, and is now featuring for Portugal.
Dubbed “Bulo” by his grandmother, due to his risk taking, he has a similar playing style to Paul Pogba. Just like the Frenchman, he takes long shots, this evident when he scored in the victory over Académica back in December. He also has good dribbling skills, is good at threading through balls to the strikers and is good at aerial dules.
Former Benfica coach Rui Vitória realised the potential of the young man and despite his rise, he didn’t have the best debut for the national team back in March. But coach Vitória was brave in allowing the young man to improve by his mistakes.
Being named in Portugal’s Euro 2016 squad, he could go on to become the next superstar, over taking fellow country man Cristiano Ronaldo.