Summary

  • Former Benfica star eager to earn a permanent role at Bayern.
  • Ancelotti advice aiding midfielder's steady progress.
  • EURO winner is forming friendships and learning German.

The dust long since settled on his high-profile summer move to Bayern Munich, Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches says he is now keen to secure a starting spot at the reigning Bundesliga champions.

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The 19-year-old arrived at the Bavarian giants fresh from glory at last summer’s UEFA EURO 2016 – where he was named the tournament’s best young player following Portugal’s final triumph against France. A domestic champion at Benfica prior to his international feats, Sanches appeared set for continued success with his summer switch to Germany. His appearances somewhat limited under coach Carlo Ancelotti this term, however, the powerful midfielder is having to wait for that elusive permanent first-team place.

Watch: Fun and games on the Bayern bench with Renato Sanches:

“Every player wants to play, that’s completely normal,” Sanches said in an interview with Portuguese newspaper A Bola over the weekend. “The solution is not to give up but to continue working, all the while knowing that my moment will arrive,” he added. “I have faith in my efforts and for that reason I don’t feel down. Only 11 can play so I will work until my time comes. I knew this was going to be hard and it’s all part of integrating here.”

Coming on as a second-half substitute during Bayern’s 8-0 win against Hamburger SV at the weekend brought Sanches’s Bundesliga appearance tally to 11 this term [including four starts]. In total, he has featured in 18 games in all competitions since recovering from the thigh injury he picked up at the EUROs. Yet, as opposed to harbouring feelings of frustration due to a lack of game time, Sanches is focusing on fulfilling the requirements of coach and club. “My relationship with Carlo Ancelotti is good, very good,” he explained. “He speaks with me, explains things, tells me what I need to improve. I think I am meeting his expectations and that I’m going to arrive to where he wants me to be.”

Renato Sanches appreciates the input of coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Moving from his native Portugal to play for a club of FC Bayern’s renown was certainly a bold step for the then 18-year-old. But Sanches maintains that developing bonds and receiving offers of advice from those within the Bayern squad have helped greatly with his adaptation. “Over time you form friendships,” the 2016 European Golden Boy winner told A Bola. “There are people with whom I get along with very well. Those I hang around with include the Spanish and Brazilian players like Thiago Alcantara, Rafinha, Douglas Costa and Javi Martínez. But I also get on with Franck Ribery and David Alaba; they are older and tell me that if I need anything, to just ask. They warmly welcomed me when I came here.”

Of the many aspects of life in Germany that Renato Sanches appreciates, being able to walk through the streets of Munich or go for a meal without being pestered by the public is among them. “Sure people recognise me, but in Germany they are calm and tranquil about that,” he said. “People don’t approach us like they would in Portugal; many just look.” On his German language skills, the midfielder added, “I can say things like ‘hello’; ‘good afternoon’, ‘how are you?’ I understand German a lot better than I can speak it. When someone is speaking to me in German, I get it and try to develop the conversation a bit.”

Admitting that he has, “already lived through a lot in the world of football,” despite being, “only 19,” Renato Sanches feels that being able to mature rapidly has helped. “Do I think I have had to grow up quickly? I think so, yes,” he explained. “But it’s also the case that I have had a mature attitude along the way. [Being at Bayern] is going to help me a lot. Every day I spend here I feel I am a better player. Who wouldn’t want to play for Bayern Munich? They are one of the best teams in the world, if not the best,” the midfielder concluded.  

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