Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to get a second chance, but rarely are you afforded the luxury of a third chance and that goes none more so than for Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches. After two disappointing seasons, the Portuguese talent is back at the Allianz Arena looking to prove all the doubters wrong and kick-start his Bundesliga career.
Signing for Bayern Munich back in the summer of 2016, the youngster was one of Europe’s hottest properties having just helped Portugal to glory at the European Championships on the back of a hugely impressive season with Benfica. Not content with a winner’s medal, Sanches also took the Young Player of the Tournament award.
Bayern splashed out €35 million on the midfielder with then coach Pep Guardiola well pleased with his acquisition describing him at the time as “one of the best young players by far in Europe. He’s dynamic, has a lot of quality and, above all, has character. He covers a lot of ground. He’s top, top quality and has got a big future ahead of him.”
That quality was however too rarely on display during a tough first season at the Allianz Arena and the ‘big future’ mentioned looked to be set away from Munich. After starting four of Bayern’s first six games of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season, he struggled to settle and struggled also to get in the side ahead of Xabi Alonso, Thiago and Arturo Vidal. A total of nine starts showed clearly that all was not well, but surprisingly a loan deal was organised with Premier League outfit Swansea City (then coached by former Bayern assistant Paul Clement).
The move however soon turned sour with first a lack of starts, then Clement being fired in December, before a thigh injury impacted on his game time. Bayern have now decided to bring him back rather than organising another loan or a permanent switch handing the 20-year-old a second chance.
“He is coming back,” Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained. “Niko Kovac will try to bring him back to his former glory. This is an exciting task.
“Renato has had two difficult years, which I believe were related to his elevation as the golden boy of Euro 2016. Psychologically, that was not easy for him to handle. We were totally convinced of him two years ago and will not give up on him now.”
On the plus side, new trainer Niko Kovac does have a good track record with young players who have needed some guidance to fulfil their obvious potential. You only have to look at how players like Marius Wolf and Ante Rebic have blossomed at the Commerzbank Arena to see proof of that.
On the down side, if Sanches struggled previously at the Allianz Arena with the competition in midfield, how will he fare now against the likes of Leon Goretzka, Javi Martinez, Sebastian Rudy, Arturo Vidal, Corentin Tolisso, Thiago and James Rodriguez?
It is going to be an interesting season for Bayern in the post-Heynckes era under Niko Kovac and it will certainly be an interesting season for Renato Sanches. Will the one time ‘Golden Boy’ shine or will it prove to be a case of ‘Fools Gold’ for Bayern?
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