“Bayern would not have been able to afford him had we tried to sign him after the Euros. We would be talking about crazy money now. And he would definitely not be playing in the Bundesliga next term then.”-Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on signing Renato Sanches.
Renato Sanches has had a meteoric rise to the top, and simply put, he’s Europe’s most developed 18-year-old footballer.
OFFICIAL: Renato Sanches has won the #EURO2016 Young Player of the Tournament award.
A star is born. pic.twitter.com/jwo3xnvKyy
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 10, 2016
As a central midfielder, Sanches is a prototypical box-to-box midfielder. He tirelessly works for the team, whether he is contributing defensively or starting an attack in the final third of pitch. His style of play prompted his club Benfica to promote him from their reserve team.
In his first full season with Benfica, he was at the center of everything, and his play helped the club win both the league and the domestic cup.
While he was influential domestically, his rise to the top started against Bayern Munich, the team who he signed for.
While Sanches was lively in both matches, the match in Munich prompted Die Roten to keep a close eye on him in the following months.
Throughout the 90 minutes. Sanches was the engine room for Benfica. In terms of the attack, he sprayed the ball with efficiency. His passing percentage of 91% percent was the best on his team, and one percent less than Bayern Munich counterpart Arturo Vidal.
He was also brilliant defensively. In the match, Sanches stopped a rampaging Thomas Muller in his tracks, then he sprinted the length of the pitch to stop Douglas Costa after he was picked in a clever switch of play. While they lost 1-0, Sanches held his own against one of the best teams in Europe, stifling play whenever he could.
Bayern Munich saw his quality and was signed for 35 million euros, but could reach up to 80 million if he reaches certain benchmarks.
Renato Sanches completed 14 take-ons & won 14 tackles this season; more than any other Champions League teenager. https://t.co/2mhJLZLgmp
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 10, 2016
His performance for his club caught the eye of Fernando Santos as he was picked to represent Portugal in the European Championship.
In the Euro, it was much of the same throughout the tournament, as he helped the Portuguese win their first major trophy in the country’s history. To put icing on the cake, he was awarded the tournament’s Best Young Player award.
What Bayern Munich are getting is an already developed 18-year-old that can slot into the starting line-up with ease. He’s won trophies wherever he goes plus he can compete with the best in the UEFA Champions League.
The reason why Bayern should build the future around him is because his box-to-box style of play can help Bayern Munich retain the ball. He’s also good offensively. While he doesn’t score many goals, he has the ability, as his 35-yard goal vs. Academica caught the eye of spectators all across the world. Defensively, he has the work rate that will make manager Carlo Ancelotti smile as he can break-up play. He also has great fitness as the game wears on. In extra time against Munich, Sanches ran a good length of the pitch to stop Kingsley Coman from getting a shot off.
As an 18-year old, he will face stiff competition from other midfielders in the squad, but to cultivate his talents further, he needs game time. Logically, he can play alongside midfielder Xabi Alonso because he is a smooth passer of the ball. Even Alonso is excited at the prospect of playing along the young Portuguese midfielder.
“He’s hungry to win things, to improve and I’m looking forward to working with him and to be able to share the midfield and to play together. So far he’s European champions with Portugal. Can he learn from me? Maybe I’m able to learn some things from him as well.”
Having a strong spine ensues stability with the team, and Sanches will certainly add strength and power into the line-up.
If Bayern want to get ready for the future, giving Sanches an ample amount of playing will be the first step in the transition from the old guard to the new. With Sanches, there is no drop off in quality and he can compete with the best of them, as he has proven it on the biggest stages of world football. To have a an already developed youngster is a rare commodity in football.