Renato Sanches has never quite reached the heights of his European Golden Boy potential, but another opportunity to get his career back on track has materialized. This time it may be make or break.
If Die Roten continued to utilize a 4-2-3-1, depth in the attacking third may pose a problem with only three pure wingers. The limited depth out wide also includes the aging and injury prone Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. As two of the best attacking players on the roster both James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller will be needed in central and wide attacking roles. This leaves four midfielders for two spots in a midfield pivot: Javi Martinez, Thiago, Leon Goretzka and Renato Sanches. Although this may seem like enough, six matches before October 6 may expose just how thin the Bayern squad is at the moment and I haven’t even mentioned the issues at full back.
The injury to Rafinha means Kovac only has two true fullbacks at his disposal until at least November. The Croatian boss may decide to promote either Derrick Kohn or Jonathan Meier from Bayern II to lighten the load, but Marco Friedl’s absence on loan leaves the manager without any experienced back-up options. He could opt to field Jerome Boateng as a fullback, but a first-team outfield player may provide the best option.
Enter Renato Sanches. The 21-year-old has undoubted potential and when he was at is best, the all-action midfielder demonstrated a dynamism on the ball and steel in the tackle. Despite his abysmal first season at the Allianz Arena and his disastrous loan spell at Swansea City, Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac has indicated that he wishes to help to youngster reclaim his top form. The Portuguese international has energy and athleticism to burn and a desire to prove himself, while the Bavarian giants are in need of cover throughout the park.
Sanches and Martinez will need to spell Thiago who does not have the best injury record, and Leon Goretzka who had a close call in training just yesterday, in the midfield, especially with Muller and James deployed further forward. He will be given his opportunity to make himself a fixture on the bench and maybe even pressure Martinez for increased playing time.
The Portuguese international’s ability to play as a number 6 or a number 8 will allow him to thrive alongside any of the midfield options. This versatility coupled with a aggressive style will fit in well with Kovac’s suffocating press. The dynamic midfielder will help to kickstart attacking moves and is more than capable in the final third.
Along with the need to give the youngster a run in the middle of the park, he may present the best option to provide cover at both full back positions. David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich are arguably the world’s best at their positions, which makes it even more vital to keep them healthy as the campaign becomes increasingly demanding. Although Sanches is right-footed, he is more than capable with his left and his athleticism and ball playing ability give him the tools he needs to fill in as a serviceable full back option. His hard-tackling nature will also suit him well, but the biggest question mark will be his ability to stay disciplined in defense.
Kovac has brought a degree of discipline as well as a reputation for developing youth. The manager’s impact on the former Golden Boy will likely be put to the test earlier than expected.
Do you think Sanches has what it takes to be Bayern’s “jack of all trades”?