Last summer, many hailed Bayern’s signing of Renato Sanches as a transfer masterpiece. Even Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spoke of what a coup they had achieved in locking up the 18-year-old’s signature. In an official club press release upon Sanches’s signing, the Bayern CEO said that “we are delighted to have signed him for our club despite notable international competitors.” This statement came after a much publicized flirtation with Manchester United and coming out on top in a transfer battle with the richest club in the world was seen as a major victory for Bayern.
After the Euro 2016 Tournament in which Renato Sanches played a starring role on the Portugal side that ended up lifting the trophy, the €35 million price tag seemed like a bargain. Rummenigge even went so far as to say that Bayern wouldn’t have been able to afford Sanches if they had attempted to buy him after the Euros.
In an interview with the German publication Soester Anzeiger, Rummenigge was quoted as saying, “We are happy that we made the decision to sign him quite early, after the Champions League quarterfinal tie against Benfica. And we are very happy that we had the courage to spend big on him in April because €35m is a lot of money.” He continued, "Bayern would not have been able to afford him had we tried to sign him after the Euros. We would be talking about crazy money now. And he would definitely not be playing in the Bundesliga next term then."
Despite all of the fanfare that came with his arrival, Renato Sanches failed to make any sort of impact with the first team last season. Indeed, he only ended up playing 903 minutes in 25 matches across all competitions. And now this summer, the talk has been of Sanches leaving Bayern altogether. Earlier this week Rummenigge said that AC Milan were interested, today the papers say that Manchester United are back in for the midfielder. No one is sure of what kind of deal the transfer would be, but many are speculating that a multi-year loan with an option to buy is on the cards.
With all of the talk surrounding Sanches’s future and the best way for him to fulfill his obvious potential, I think we should step back and consider if Renato Sanches leaving is really the best thing for Bayern Munich.
Some would see it as logical to go ahead and cash in on Sanches because it is obvious that he won’t get into Carlo Ancelotti’s first team any time soon and rotting on the bench is no way for a prospect to develop; if someone wants to pay more than €35 million for him, why not sell?
My problem with this thinking is that you buy an 18-year-old as a long-term investment; he is meant to be the future of your club. Arturo Vidal won’t play forever and Renato Sanches seems like the ideal replacement for Vidal in a few years. So why get rid of a player who could be one of Europe’s elite midfielders for the next ten years?
Some would argue that a loan deal would be the best route so that Sanches could gain valuable playing experience, but Bayern would still hold the player’s rights if a few years down the road they deem him worthy of the first team. This seems like the ideal scenario but there is a downside: maybe he doesn’t succeed on his loan team.
Sanches is still a teenager and he has only had a few years as a professional, is it a given that he will slot right into another team? A new team this year would mean he’s played for three different clubs in three seasons, is changing teams every season really the best way to develop the talent you’ve already invested €35 million on?
Maybe staying in Bavaria would be the best thing for Sanches and for Bayern Munich. He probably won’t play very much for the first team this season and he may not even play very much next season, but Sanches is an extremely talented player with incredible physical gifts so why not utilize such an valuable commodity as a squad player? He can play in cup matches or the odd league game and if Arturo Vidal or Thiago suffer an injury then Sanches can serve as a capable replacement. In the meantime, he is training with the Bayern Munich coaching staff and spending time with the best and most experienced players in the world.
All signs indicate that Renato Sanches won’t be playing in a Bayern shirt this season, but maybe we shouldn’t be so ready to see him leave. We all saw what he was capable of at the Euros last summer and we all know that his potential is sky-high. Hopefully in five years he is fulfilling that potential for Bayern Munich and not for somebody else.