All you need to know about Portugal and Bayern starlet Renato Sanches
FC Bayern München fans can expect to learn a whole lot more about summer recruit Renato Sanches when Portugal take to the stage at UEFA Euro 2016. To help get you ahead of the crowd, bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the 18-year-old’s backstory.
1) A long-range goal on debut
Sanches marked his first home start for Benfica’s first team with a goal last December. Leading 2-0 thanks to a pair of Jonas penalties, Sanches netted a 30-metre screamer five minutes from time to become the Eagles’ youngest goalscorer at the Estadio da Luz since the turn of the century, aged 18 years, three months and 17 days. “Renato was wonderful,” said Benfica coach Rui Vitoria. “It was a great debut. Surely he will not forget this performance.”
2) A bright start
A great debut indeed, but not a surprise for those in the know at the Portuguese champions. On the club’s books since the age of nine, Sanchez actually scored his first professional goal for Benfica B, who play in Portugal’s second tier, just over three months earlier. That August day was witness to an shock 2-1 defeat to Varzim FC, but Sanchez had nonetheless opened the scoring two minutes in, just 13 days past his 18th birthday.
3) A portent of great things?
Born on 18 August 1997, Sanches shares his birthday with some luminaries of world football. Frenchman Just Fontaine, now 82, remains the top scorer in a single FIFA World Cup with his haul of 13 in the 1958 competition, while Gianni Rivera is now an Italian politician, but the 72-year-old made over 500 appearances with AC Milan between 1960 and 1979.
4) All the attributes
Although he stands just 1.76m tall, Sanches is a potent cocktail of pace, power and guile. His two goals for Benfica this season demonstrate as much. While his first top-flight goal was a thunderbolt to cap off a fine team move which he had started against Academica, his second was a fine solo strike against Vitoria Guimaraes in January, in which he found the top corner from a tight angle following a corner. “He has a strong shot and good vision for someone in his position,” said Diego Simeone before Benfica’s clash with Atletico Madrid in December. “It’s always nice to see good young players.”
5) Full Portugal international
After picking up a combined 40 youth caps, Sanches made his full debut for Portugal in March against Bulgaria, coming on as a 76th-minute substitute for William Carvalho. While the match ended in a 2-1 defeat, there was a touching moment for Sanches late on, when a young fan ran onto the pitch an embraced the midfielder. Sanches is letting none of his success go to his head, though. “I know I still have to develop,” he said. “I’m 18. Over time, and with the help of my colleagues, I will improve.”