Manchester United watched SL Benfica’s Renato Sanches in action on Monday night against Braga in the Taca da Liga semi-final.
The 18-year-old midfielder has been the talk of the town after reports said Man United were closing in on a deal which could be worth anything up to £60m for the coveted youngster.
Having picked up the Revelation of the Year award in Portugal, Sanches is a hot talent in European football and United have certainly been keeping track of his progress this year.
We spoke to Portuguese football expert Jan Hagen to find out how Sanches played against Braga and if he was able to impress once again.
Speaking to The Peoples Person, Jan said: “Man United had a scout to watch Benfica for the 24th consecutive game when they took on Braga in the Taça da Liga semi-final Monday night. There’s no secret the English giant were observing 18-year-old Renato Sanches.
“The scouts present at Estádio da Luz, most noteworthy from Arsenal, Man United and Bayern Munich, would hardly have been impressed by what they saw from young Renato. He didn’t have the positive impact he usually has on the game with his physical, constant running and attacking contributions.
“He looked rather tired which is not so surprising as it was his second game in four days and his 52nd game of the season.
“His passing was all over the place and so was his finishing. His disappointing performance come to an end when he was subbed off at half time. Benfica were 1-0 down at this point but managed to turn the score around and win 2-1 in the second half to reach their third consecutive Taça da Liga final.”
That’s an incredible amount of games for an 18-year-old to have played in one season, it would be for any established senior player as well, so to hear his performances are flagging is not at all surprising.
It certainly raises a question mark over whether an inclusion in Portugal’s squad for Euro 2016 will do him any favours either because he’d almost certainly benefit from the rest this summer, not that he’d want it as playing in the European Championships would be too much of a lure for him.
As for United, we are continuing to scout Sanches and keep tabs on him. If we did all this work and didn’t make a move, it would be a lot of wasted time and effort.