When UEFA Euro 2016 first came around, few eyes were on Portugal. Despite boasting top talent including Cristiano Ronaldo, many seen the nation as a somewhat dour, obstinate football team that lacked enough firepower to go all the way in a tournament setting. However, the arrival of Renato Sanches as a first-team regular for SL Benfica changed thinking. Quickly, the player showed a midfield dynamism to shift through the gears, get his club up the pitch, and score goals with regularity. He was a key player in the 2016 victory against host nation France, playing incredibly in the Final. Since then, though, things have gotten worse.
A major move to FC Bayern Munich followed, with Sanches failing to acclimatise to life in Germany. This led to numerous loan moves, including a period of time at Swansea City in England. Playing for the Welsh side, though, was a mistake; he went down with a whimper with the side, and was believed to be as low as a player of his standing could be in terms of his view on the game as a whole. Eventually, an exit was sanctioned, as Sanches made the move to France to join Lille OSC.
Despite being seen as a highly impressive midfielder with time on his side, the Munich experience had soured the top clubs in Europe to Sanches. However, a rebuilding of his career has taken place in France, becoming one of the top midfielders in the country. Indeed, his performances this year as Lille won the Ligue 1 title was seen as a catalyst for the transformative success of the club.
Now, he looks set to leave Lille as many of their star players depart for pastures new. Reborn as a midfield dynamo, Sanches once again has suitors in England.
Is Renato Sanches suited to the Premier League?
Linked heavily with Liverpool as one of the many midfield names suggested as a Gini Wijnaldum replacement, Sanches is seen as the ideal Premier League midfielder. His impressive energy and his passing range makes him ideal, as does his physical stature that ensures he can easily wade through tackles and challenges whilst giving them out himself.
His time at Swansea might be a black mark, but it has to come within context. The player had left Benfica too soon, and looked entirely lost outside of his comfort zone. Playing for the uber-demanding Bayern structure can be tough for any young player, too; he is not the first highly-rated prospect to wilt in Munich.
When playing for the Jacks, he was low on confidence and in a funk in terms of finding himself as a player outside of his home nation. Having matured in France and finally found his feet once again, Sanches is almost certain to rock up as part of the Premier League next year.
Bids are expected to arrive come the end of Portugal’s push for Euro repeat glory. If they are to succeed, then the midfield dynamo will play an absolutely massive role in making that happen.