Scouting Renato Sanches: The €60m midfielder Manchester United must sign


Manchester United are reportedly leading the race to sign Benfica’s highly talented young midfielder Renato Sanches. Several heavyweight European clubs like Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have also shown an interest in him, but it seems Manchester United have made the first move in securing his services.

The Red Devils have held talks with the Portuguese club and it’s been encouraging, reports the Guardian. He has a reported €60m release clause on his contract, and United are seemingly willing to meet that asking price. In fact, they are structuring to spread the fee over four years in a deal similar to the one they carried out to bring Anthony Martial to Old Trafford last summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager and now club director, has recommended the club to sign the youngster. While United’s close working relationship with the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, may help the transfer to push through.

Renato Sanches: Player Profile 

He first started out at Aguias da Musgueira in 2005 when he was only eight years old. The following year he joined Benfica. In October 2014, he made his debut for Benfica with the B-team in the second division. He impressed everyone and was promoted to the first team in 2015-16 with a view to initially train with them.

Benfica were struggling badly at the start of the season. They were beaten by Sporting and Porto and were lagging eight points behind top spot by the end of October. Then under-fire manager Rui Vitoria was almost compelled to hand the Portuguese a break through in the senior team. Sanches made his professional debut for Benfica on 30 October, 2015 when he replaced Jonas on the 74th min in a 4-0 win over Tondela.

In mid November, he made his first start against Astana in the Champions League. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, but Sanches impressed again. A few days later, he made his first Liga start in the central midfield position as Benfica won 2-0 against Braga. He has never looked back since, and has slowly established himself into a regular member of the side.

It is no coincidence that his impressive form has been one of the highlights behind Benfica’s amazing turnaround as they are top of the table now, two points ahead of Sporting, with only three games left to play.

Style of Play: Strength and Weakness 

For a teenager who is (relatively) inexperienced, the way Sanches carries himself on the pitch gives you the impression that he is a seasoned veteran. A typical box-to-box midfielder; he plays with a lot of self belief, swagger and confidence. He is always demanding for the ball, and is willing to drive his team forward from central positions. He always wants to be in the thick of the action, and willing to do the dirty job for his side as well.

Sanches is a tireless runner. He has bundles of energy, and his stamina and work rate are simply admirable. At such a tender age, it is remarkable how he manages to play with such a high intensity. He likes to stamp his authority on the game, akin to former Benfica player Enzo Perez.

One of his major strengths is taking shots from distance and hit with accuracy. When he gets into a good position, he is generally not afraid of testing the goalkeeper with his long range efforts. His goals against Académica Coimbra and Vitória only reflect what the 18-year-old is capable of.

Despite being a relentless workhorse, creativity is one area where he needs to focus on. His passing is wayward at times, and in trying to be too aggressive he sometimes make major mistakes, which can be excused given his age and inexperience.

Perfect for Manchester United 

United need to reshape their midfield in the summer, with the club could be looking to sell a few senior players to make room for new additions. Michael Carrick turns 35 in July and he hasn’t been offered a new deal and there is no assurance over his future at Old Trafford as well.

Similarly, the club harbour concern over German skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger’s longevity at Old Trafford. His first season at the club has been blighted by injuries, and currently struggling to stay fit to participate in Euro 2016.

The signings of Martial and Depay only indicate that United are ready to invest big on young talents if the players are really good enough. The transfer fee being quoted may seem too much at this moment but he is worth taking the risk. United fans will forget the figure if Sanches turns out to be a world class player in the future.

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