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After a slight hesitation that cost Manchester United the signature of Portuguese sensation Renato Sanches last summer, the Red Devils may be offered another chance to get their hands on the player in the upcoming summer window.
United were heavily linked with a move for Sanches ahead of Jose Mourinho’s first season, but the managerial change that took place allowed German champions Bayern Munich to swoop in and steal the midfielder from under the noses of the English club for an initial fee of £27.5million.
Now, however, exactly 12 months later, United are likely to be presented with another shot at signing Sanches as he could be on the way out of Allianz Arena in the upcoming window.
Following his big-money move to Germany, Sanches has found it extremely hard to break into the starting line-up under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian has preferred to use the midfield trio of Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal, and Xabi Alonso and as a result, the 19-year old was afforded just 6 starts in the Bundesliga and played a total of just 903 minutes across all competitions, without scoring a single goal or registering a single assist.
With Die Roten close to signing German midfielder Leon Goretzka in the summer from Schalke, Sanches’ situation is unlikely to improve and German publication Kicker (h/t Metro) reported a few weeks back that once Goretzka’s deal is done, Bayern will listen to offers for the Portuguese teenager. United remain keen on the youngster as manager Jose Mourinho looks to bolster his options in the midfield ahead of next campaign.
Despite the fact that he has had a poor season in Germany, Sanches still remains one of the most promising midfielders in Europe. The youngster burst onto the scenes in the 2015-16 campaign for Benfica and caught everyone’s eyes with some stellar performances that earned him a call-up to the Portugal National Team for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament in France.
He did his growing reputation no harm as he put in some excellent displays in the competition, playing an important role in Portugal’s Euro triumph. After having shone on the biggest stages of European football, things may not have gone as per plans for Sanches, but his quality is still there.
The 19-year old, in his short time with Benfica, played in multiple positions – central midfield, defensive midfield, and on the flanks, but seemed to have found his home in a box-to-box role. United have played a midfield three this season, using Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, and Michael Carrick. Fellaini was used extensively as well.
With Carrick’s future in doubt, Herrera could be the ideal heir to step into his shoes. So bringing in Sanches to play alongside Pogba would be the best thing that could happen to Manchester United’s midfield. His energy and burst of pace over short distances allow him to cover the ground effectively, while his exceptional distribution skills combined with his positional awareness would allow Pogba to flourish more.
There is no question of whether Sanches will be a major improvement on Fellaini. The Belgian may add value to the team with his aerial prowess and physicality, but the 19-year old will bring so much more to the table than that. Sanches is a better passer of the ball, is technically much more well-equipped and his defensive nous along with his energy and athleticism will make him a much better option in the midfield.
A poor season may have dented his reputation a little, but there are no doubts about his potential and if he is backed and given confidence by the right person, he can achieve great heights. Mourinho could be that person to get the best out of him. So, if the opportunity arises for Manchester United to sign him in the summer, they shouldn’t dilly-dally like they did last time.