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Renato Sanches at PSG, a midfield bet for Christophe Galtier

And four for Paris! After the recruitments of Vitinha, Hugo Ekitike and Nordi Mukiele, PSG formalized, Thursday August 4, the signing of Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches for five seasons. In the pipes for long weeks, the transfer of the former Lille resident, aged 24, took time to materialize. But a few hours before the resumption of Ligue 1, it is now done.

An investment which comes, in number, to compensate for the imminent departure of Georginio Wijnaldum, more desired in Paris, like that of Idrissa Gueye. And bring, a priori, additional solutions to Christophe Galtier, his former coach at Losc. But that also raises questions.

Paris to make the Golden Boy 2016 shine again

It is already a long time ago when the Portuguese panicked Europe with his talent. In the summer of 2016, barely 18 years old and after winning the Euro with the Seleção, Renato Sanches fell into another world when he left Benfica for Bayern Munich. Having just been named winner of the Golden Boy trophy – consecrating the best young player under 21 playing in Europe – we then promised the best in the midfield, with already very developed physical and technical capacities.

Renato Sanches after Portugal's victory over France in the Euro 2016 final, July 10, 2016. (MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

But, already, his body betrays him. A tear disrupted his preparation, and in this post-Guardiola Bayern led by Carlo Ancelotti, he only played 17 games, for no tenure in the Bundesliga. What to be named in the XI type of “The worst” (the worst) pastiche of the “The best” trophy organized by the Marca newspaper, in October 2017.

Having left for Swansea, in the Premier League, as part of a paid loan during the 2017-2018 season, Sanches was able to discover another great championship. But then again, the Golden Boy no longer shines. 12 appearances, no goals, repeated injuries. “I was depressed there, yes, because it was not my choice to go to Swansea. I was forced to go“, he defended himself in the Team in February 2020. On his return to Bavaria, exit Carlo Ancelotti. “We had complete faith in him two years ago and we won’t condemn him now“, explains Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, then president of Bayern.

Niko Kovac, a renowned coach who likes to shape young people, has just arrived. A last buoy that a Portuguese adrift fails to grasp in the midfield of the German champions, with only 567 minutes played. In the summer of 2019, he went into exile permanently in Lille, hoping to find his brilliance there in a group qualified for the Champions League. Walked by Christophe Galtier from the right wing to the midfield, he participated in 30 matches in all competitions during his first season, then participated in the crazy epic 2020-2021 with the Dogues, even if several injuries, in particular to the ischio, keep him away from the grounds all winter.

At the start of last season, it was the meniscus that whistled and put the Portuguese on hold until early October and condemned his transfer to Barcelona. His last season, under the leadership of Jocelyn Gourvennec, leaves a taste of unfinished business in the North, with 19, 23 and finally 25 matches played in Ligue 1. This transfer to PSG, ardently desired by Sanches, therefore comes at a pivotal moment. , in a club whose objective is reminiscent of that known at Bayern: to win the Champions League.

Sanches-Galtier, the great reunion

It remains to be seen now how Sanches can fit into the 3-4-3 set up by Galtier during the Champions Trophy (4-0). Asked at the end of 2020 by France Football about the best position of the Portuguese while he was still training the Dogues, the former coach of OGC Nice and Saint-Etienne had a fairly clear idea: “I think the 4-3-3 would be particularly suitable because he could project himself without restraint, knowing that there is a sentry watching. Because with two, he must be a little more vigilant. Besides, as he is someone who understands the game very well, who analyzes his performances a lot, and who also watches a lot of football, he knows how to keep a more defensive position.

As for the margin of evolution of his foal, there too Christophe Galtier had a very precise vision of the points to improve concerning the 24-year-old player: “Renato can still better choose the areas where to try the dribble and where to ensure more, even if it is important not to take away his audacity. And finally, he can gain experience to channel himself better. In certain matches where he is in the tough one, he may have wanted to do things alone and lose a bit of lucidity. But I prefer players to temper than players to shake!”

Recovery, creation… The Portuguese has the full palette

The promise of seeing Marco Verratti and Renato Sanches partner in the middle arouses certain curiosity. Because without saying that the Portuguese has the same vista as his (future) Italian teammate, it is another real creator who arrives in the capital. A player who does not hesitate to take responsibility, the game on his own and bring the surplus in front.

Technically gifted, the ex-Lillois is also explosive, capable of eliminating one-on-one on one step and resisting numerous duels in the midfield despite being quite modest in size (1.76 m). At mid-season 2021-2022, the sports betting site Who scored had ranked Sanches at the top of Ligue 1 dribblers having attempted at least 40 dribbles, with 77% success. So many qualities that led Luis Campos but especially Christophe Galtier, his coach in Lille during his first two seasons, to activate to recruit him, despite AC Milan’s interest in the Portuguese.


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