Renato Sanches came to Bayern as the brightest young player in Europe. However, his star has waned since he signed for die Roten. How is he faring in Wales?
The halfway mark of the season is the perfect point to assess the performance of Bayern’s loanees. In this first instalment, we look at Renato Sanches. The signs are indeed concerning with the Portuguese youngster.
A failed promise
Bayern signed Sanches just as he broke through as Europe’s most talented young player. He was having the time of his life, having won the European Championship with Portugal in France. UEFA awarded him the Young Player of the Tournament accolade for his fantastic performance. As such, Bayern fans were jubilant over having beaten most of Europe’s elite to the talented youngster’s signature.
And thus, Sanches arrived in Munich having won numerous accolades and prestigious silverware already. He broke records set by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, at just 18 years of age. It goes without saying that expectations were of course, very high. Dare I say, this played a part in what was to come. Regardless of the pressure, he was in prime position to fit right into Bayern’s already competitive midfield scene. However, his performances soon fluffed those hopes.
Sanches soon began sliding. His attitude on and off the pitch was lackadaisical and uninspiring. At one point, he even had to apologise on social media over an unnecessary, ostentatious show of wealth. Sanches struggled to accrue playing minutes. When he did get them, the player failed to impress. Ultimately, he made less than 10 starts for the Bavarian champions throughout the season. Owing to his situation, Bayern loaned Sanches to Swansea, in a sanguine effort to change his fortunes.
Last month, I reached my personal threshold of tolerance for Renato Sanches. In truth, the alarming status of his career at the moment, triggered this progress report. Sanches continues to struggle for first-team minutes, in a club that is rock-bottom of the English Premier League. The situation has been so bad that Swansea were reported to have been ready to ship Sanches back to Munich in January. Former head coach Paul Clement rubbished those claims. Still, it has been six months of less-than-average performances for the Swans, who were desperate for a special talent to lift them out of potential relegation.
Sanches has played just four full games out of a potential twelve in the league. The most embarrassing of these performances came at Stamford Bridge in a defeat to Chelsea. Clement subbed Sanches off after just 45 minutes. The player even trended on social media for having passed the ball to an advertisement board having mistaken it for a team-mate. This remained a depressing quintessence of his poor game concentration. His manager was left bemused by this, and said after the game, “I feel for him, he is a talented player but I don’t think in any of the games he has played this year he has shown the talent he has. He is struggling for confidence, he is struggling for form”.
How long will this struggle continue? Despite playing in his preferred central midfield position, Sanches is yet to tally a goal or an assist. His style of play has involved getting fouled multiple times in games, due to his strong dribbling skills. He likes to take shots from distance, and sadly the accuracy of those has not improved since his Bayern days. His main weaknesses remain tackling and on-the-ball concentration. For a midfielder, those are some pretty distressing weaknesses to have, without enough effort to turn an improvement on them in six months.
It is not too late for young Renato, due to the fact he still is only 20 years old. There is still plenty of time for him to settle down and find his feet, with a coach who is willing to mold him from scratch. However, it seems Swansea hardly have any time to grow players at the moment given their league predicament. It goes without saying, of course, that the future of the once Golden Boy is now in serious uncertainty. A year in his development has all but gone to waste.
At the moment, he cannot be of any valuable help to Bayern. The midfield scene has become even more voraciously competitive since he left (Goretzka, wink wink). There has been speculation that he might be put on the transfer market by his agent, but we await the club’s official decision on Sanches.
My verdict? Flop.
A starring return to shine in Bavaria is the last thing I expect, for now.