Where next for want-away Renato Sanches?
It seems a distant memory. In 2016, Renato Sanches had the world at his feet.
The star of Benfica’s midfield as he helped his Portuguese club win the Primeira Liga, the star of the Portugal national team as he helped his country win their first ever major tournament at Euro 2016, and the star of the world’s young players as he was voted as the 2016 Golden Boy, Renato’s rise was rapid, stunning and almost incomprehensible.
After only establishing himself in Benfica’s main team in November 2015, just 6 months and 1,905 minutes of league action later, he was snapped up by German giants Bayern Munich for a fee of 35 million euros - no small fee, which could only get bigger with a substantial 45 million euros available to Benfica in add-ons if certain achievements were fulfilled in his time at the Bundesliga club.
As unlikely and sudden was his rise, it seems equally inconceivable that his fall has been just as significant; seemingly destined for the top after such confident and impressive displays in his home country, Renato has found game time hard to come by, and he has made it clear that he wants out.
In fact, in comments reported by Bild, Sanches, at half time of the final match of the season, is said to have told his teammates “Thank god… only 45 minutes to go and then I’m off on holiday. After that, never again, never again.”
The question is though, where next for Renato Sanches? And can he rejuvenate his career?
That second question is easy enough to answer. Still only 21 years of age, Sanches has virtually his whole career ahead of him, giving him plenty of time to fulfil all of his dreams and potential with an abundance of time to spare.
It’s simply a case of putting that horrific Swansea loan spell behind him and finding a club that gives him regular game time and the chance to regain his confidence. That shouldn’t really be too difficult considering all the natural talent and composure he showed in his first season in senior football.
The first question, however - where next for the Portuguese Golden Boy - is far more difficult to answer.
After all, where he should go, and where he wants to go, are two very different considerations.
One club that are very interested in snapping up the Portuguese international is Paris Saint-Germain - and you can be sure that such a proposition would be of great interest to Renato Sanches. A club that are showing incredible ambition and are looking to bolster their central midfield, it could be the clean break he needs to reignite his career.
At the same time, though, will he be guaranteed the game time he needs? In all likelihood, perhaps not. It’s not as if the PSG team are short of talent. But he can be sure of increased minutes compared to what he’s currently being allocated, and in a league that is somewhat less competitive than the Bundesliga, he should build confidence and impress.
But if not PSG, where else? Could a loan back to Benfica be on the cards? That would be a real coup for Benfica, and fans would undoubtedly welcome the 18-time international back to the Luz with open arms.
That could be perceived as the most sensible move for the youngster, a chance to return home to familiar surroundings and rejuvenate his career at a place where it all started. With guaranteed game time and a manager that has proven his willingness to play youth and give them time to prove themselves, it could undoubtedly put Renato back on the right path.
But would Bayern want to loan him back to Benfica? And would Renato even want to return? He may see that as admitting defeat. It, sadly, seems unlikely, but that proposal will almost always be on the table.
A move to Italy also seems plausible. AC Milan were one club that were interested in Renato Sanches back in 2017 before he eventually joined Swansea on loan, and there’s no reason to think that they won’t reignite that interest again this summer.
Alternatively, as a Jorge Mendes client, a move to Wolves is feasible and plausible in equal measure; with Renato’s eagerness to leave Bayern, Mendes may push for a move to the English club should a move to PSG fail to materialise - and you can be sure that Nuno would be interested in the 21-year old, obviously knowing a huge amount about his traits and what he can offer even the best of clubs.
Equally, with Jorge Mendes in mind, a move to Valencia or Atletico Madrid is also far from out of the question, the latter looking to rebuild their team after a summer of sales and departures.
With all that in mind, Renato’s future remains very unclear. What does seem certain, however, is that he’ll be looking for a way out.