As the Euro 2016 approaches, the footballing world looks on for the next big talent to be unearthed. Renato Sanches an 18 year old Portuguese international is one such talent.

Renato Junior Luz Sanches was born on 18th August 1997 in Lisbon, Portugal. Coming from a football savvy nation, Sanches is one of the many players who emerged from the Benfica youth system. Spending a few years with Benfica B and the reserve team, Sanches demonstrated his talent which soon allowed him to be a part of the first team of the club. Making his debut this season as a substitute against Tondela, Sanches has drawn a lot of attention since, and has even been handed a call up for the national team.

The Portuguese first division has more or less been a three horse race, with Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Benfica vying for the title every season. Benfica are the defending champions of the title and were in trouble mid-season. Having been knocked out of the cup competition and 8 points adrift of the league leaders, Benfica needed help if they were to win the title. They received this aid in the form of Renato Sanches. Since his inclusion against Sporting Lisbon as a substitute, the team have lost and drawn only one game in the League.

What can he do?

Nacional vs Benfica

Although young, Renato Sanches plays with an air of authority that is only normally seen in an experienced player. His stamina benefits him even in the dying minutes of the game, allowing him to outrun his opponents. Although young and short compared to most footballers, Sanches is quite a strong lad and isn’t easily out-muscled. To go with his exemplary passing skills and stamina, Sanches is also a powerful shooter of the ball and isn’t afraid of having a go from long distance. His goal against Academica is being considered as one of the goals of the season.

Much like Luka Modric, Sanches keeps the ball at his feet and isn’t easily dispossessed. When it comes to defensive duty, Sanches is a hard tackler with excellent positioning. However, his inexperience does show from time to time. He is sometimes reckless with his tackles, often earning a yellow. Also, when he usually retrieves the ball, his urge to rush causes him to sometimes relinquish possession of the ball in dangerous areas. He also tends to sometimes venture into the opponent’s half on his own which is usually detrimental for the team as there are other players in better positions who aren’t brought into play when necessary. However, these weaknesses are ones that will be rid through experience and careful coaching.

Euro Expectations

Portugal vs Bulgaria

Renato Sanches’ strengths make for a good addition to the Portuguese national team. Alongside Ronaldo, one of the best players currently playing the game, Sanches finds himself in a very competitive side hoping to ensure his nation wins the tournament. Sanches will look at this competition as a stage to showcase his talent.

Sanches will be in a squad which includes the likes of Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva and Nani. Playing in the heart of a 4-4-2 formation, Sanches will compliment Moutinho, who prefers to sit deeper and play through balls. With Austria, Hungary and Iceland in their group, Portugal have relatively easier games to play.


It is a known fact that soon after competitions such as the Euro and World Cup, players who have stolen the limelight usually move to bigger clubs in more competitive leagues. Sanches too will most probably be on the move in search of a higher level of football. One of his destinations includes the Premier League and Manchester United. His quick pace, shooting and work rate makes him a perfect player for the Premier League. United will surely benefit from his inclusion as he will be utilised in a role very similar to that of Paul Scholes. Barcelona too have a keen interest in the Portuguese player as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets in the future. However, for now, it seems as though the young starlet might follow Ronaldo’s footsteps.

No team would ever want to lose one of their best players in the season, especially one who has so much potential for growth. Benfica is sure to be defensive once the Euros are complete and will do their best to retain the player for as long as possible. But, as the case is with all extremely good players in the Portuguese league, it is a matter of when rather than if the player will move to one of the more high profile leagues. Irrespective of where the player ends up, we are in for some exciting football from the youngster whose career is going to grow in leaps and bounds.

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