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Alex Saidy-Smith writes a detailed scout report about Benfica’s young midfielder, Renato Sanches.
Born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, Renato Sanches is a Portuguese midfielder that is of Cape Verdean descent. Born on the 18th August 1997, Sanches first started out at Águias da Musgueira when he was eight-years-old in 2005. One year later he joined Benfica’s youth team where he would work his way up the ranks. In October 2014, eight years after joining Benfica’s academy, Sanches finally made his debut for the B team in the LigaPro.
After his first season with the B team, Sanches was promoted to the first team to initially only train with them. After impressing Benfica manager Rui Vitória, Sanches was given his first team debut on the 30th October 2015 against Tondela, the game ended 4-0 to Benfica with Sanches making a late substitute appearance in the 74th minute to replace Brazilian striker Jonas.
With his quick progression at Benfica, the club offered a new and improved contract to Sanches with a rumoured release clause of around £60 million. The youngster signed the new contract once he returned back from international duty, the new deal keeps Sanches at the Estádio da Luz until 2021.
On the 25th November 2015, Sanches made his first start for Benfica against Astana in the Champions League. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, but it was the first time Sanches completed 90 minutes for the first team. On the 30th November, Sanches started in his first Primeira Liga game for Benfica. He started in a central midfielder position as Benfica beat Braga 2-0.
Sanches got his first goal for Benfica against Académica Coimbra on the 4th December, just four days after making his first Primeira Liga start. Sanches has now established himself as an integral part of the team as well as a regular in the starting eleven.
Yet to make an international appearance for the Portuguese senior team, Sanches has however played across the majority of youth levels and is on the right track to making his debut for the senior side. In 2014, Sanches was part of the Portugal U-17 squad that participated in the European U-17 Championship, where they unfortunately lost 2-0 in the semi-finals to eventual winners England.
Known for his tireless running and inspiring energy level, Sanches typically plays in a box-to-box midfield role. The remarkable confidence and self-belief that Sanches has is quite astonishing. Not one to hide in a game Sanches is the type of player that is always calling for the ball as well as willing to get stuck in and do the dirty side of the game.
One of Sanches’ most prominent features to his game is his stamina and work rate. Despite playing at such a high intensity, the young midfielder somehow manages to continue at such high level throughout the game. As the game go progresses, the level of pace and intensity usually starts to decline due to lack of energy, but this is quite the opposite for Sanches as his ‘second wind’ starts to kick in he is able to outrun his opponents and drive his team forward.
Standing at roughly about 176 cm, Sanches may not be the tallest player on the pitch, but he still possesses an imposing physique that leaves defenders struggling to push him off the ball. As expected aerial duels are one of his most noticeable weaknesses to his game.
Sanches is not a player that is afraid of having a shot from distance, the Benfica midfielder is occupied with a powerful shot that gives goalkeepers little to no chance of stopping when in full force. You only need to check out Sanches’ goals against Académica Coimbra and Vitória to fully see what he is capable of doing.
Another weakness to Sanches’ game is that he can be too aggressive and rash in his tackles, often giving fouls away Sanches has come narrowly close to being sent off on a few occasions this season. An additional weakness is that Sanches’ passing can be quite inconsistent, but both of these faults will most likely improve as Sanches gets more game time and gains more composure on the field.
Sanches must concentrate on improving and developing his game at Benfica. It seems inevitable that Benfica will sell Sanches in the near future, possibly even in the summer, but the Portuguese club won’t give away one of their starlets on the cheap. Clubs should expect to pay anything between £25 million to his £60 million release clause if they are serious about buying him.
It may be best for Sanches if he does stay another season or two at the Estádio da Luz where he would have stability as this is crucial in the development of any young player. It will also help with his ambition of playing in the senior international side as he would constantly be playing first team football. Portugal manager Fernando Santos may want to pick players with more experience for EURO 2016, nevertheless if Sanches continues to grow as a player and can keep consistency in his form, he will definitely be featuring for his home country in the coming years.
Written by Alex Saidy-Smith.