Renato Sanches has been on a steep learning curve since joining Bayern Munich, but the former Golden Boy believes he's ready to become a more central figure in Bavaria in the 2019/20 campaign.
"I just want what's best for me," Sanches told the press during a public appearance for one Bayern's sponsors on the club’s US Tour. "If the best for me is to stay here, I'll stay - I want to play football."
Signed from Benfica before he claimed EURO 2016 honours with Portugal, being named the tournament’s Best Young Player in the process, Sanches was billed for big things with Bayern.
Despite his game time being limited, his collection of awards grew when he beat out Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman in the running for the 2016 Golden Boy award.
However, the dizzying heights have not been hit in the three seasons since he moved to Bavaria with Sanches making 50 appearances across the trio of campaigns in all competitions for the German record titleholders. An injury-hit loan spell in the English Premier League with Swansea City did little to change his fortunes and the 21-year-old has been open about the lessons learned.
"When I transferred to Bayern, I thought I was ready to take the next step, but I wasn’t yet," Sanches told Sport1 back in March. "Now I feel very good. Germany has become my second home. But that doesn’t change anything about my situation. I want to play more and show that I’m a good player."
The desire for more game time is something Sanches has reiterated throughout his Bayern career. The defending Bundesliga champions are looking to add depth to their squad this summer, but Sanches is already facing fierce competition for minutes with Javi Martinez, Thiago, Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso on the books.
In the first half of last season when the games were coming thick and fast and injuries depleted numbers, Sanches became a more regular feature of the Bayern first team. The appearances dried up after the winter break and, though 'El Buro' capped it off with a goal in the title-clinching 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the final day, he is still hungry for more.
Nevertheless, when asked about Sanches' future, Kovac was adamant in stating: “I’ve made it very clear, Sanches isn’t going anywhere.” The Bayern head coach also appears to have found the magic words during pre-season.
“We’ve spoken about everything,” Sanches told the journalists in Los Angeles. “We’ve talked about my situation and training. He told me that he’s going to give me and the other players a chance to prove ourselves. Me and the other players, we’re starting from zero. I think he needs me because I’m a good player and the club believes in me.”
The Portuguese’s untapped potential is there for all to see. The coming 2019/20 season could be a defining campaign for Sanches at Bayern, but above all it’s another chance for him to fulfill his promise and repay the faith the German record titleholders have placed in him.