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Renato Sanches answers Arsenal’s last transfer question after Stamford Bridge star display

Renato Sanches answers Arsenal’s last transfer question after Stamford Bridge star display

Lille midfielder Renato Sanches, who has been heavily linked with a summer move to Arsenal, put in an impressive display during his side’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea

Lille may have come out on the wrong side of a 2-0 scoreline against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the French champions certainly didn’t embarrass themselves.

After conceding less than 10 minutes into their Champions League last-16 first leg, there was a fear Lille could be completely blown away by the reigning European champions.

But in the minutes following Kai Havertz’s opener, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side grew in confidence and by the time the first half had come to a close, they appeared more than a match for their Premier League opponents.

Much of that control came through Renato Sanches, who constantly found pockets of space on the right-side of Lille’s attack, able to drift in with the ball effortlessly.

In the first 45 minutes in particular, Sanches was a standout player on both sides, looking every bit the teenage prodigy he was once touted as.

Renato Sanches impressed for Lille, despite their defeat to Chelsea

Renato Sanches impressed for Lille, despite their defeat to Chelsea

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Now 24, the Portuguese international has had to take the scenic route from wonderkid, to established top level performer.

Having broken through Benfica’s famed academy and won the Young Player of the Tournament in Euro 2016, Bayern Munich shelled out an initial €35million fee with bonuses and incentives meaning the total deal could have reached €80m.

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Understandably, Sanches struggled to ever establish himself in the heart of Bayern’s midfield and just 12 months after becoming their fourth-most expensive signing of all time, the German giants sanctioned a loan move away.

Before his exit, Bayern great Lothar Matthaus even went as far to say the youngster was one of the ‘flops of the season’.

Nevertheless, Swansea City were the beneficiary in what felt like one of the great coups of that summer transfer window.

But things in south Wales started badly – his debut came in a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United – and got rapidly worse.

His lowest moment in a Swans shirt arguably came at Stamford Bridge in November of 2017 when under little pressure, he contrived to pass the ball to an advertising board in a moment which instantly went viral.

In a world of social media retweets, the incident was one which defined his stint in English football, and for many clouded judgement on a richly talented player still learning his trade.

Sanches’ final Swansea appearance came in January with a vicious parting shot from manager Carlos Carvalhal.

Sanches' wayward pass into the Stamford Bridge advertising boards was one of the over-riding memories of his season in the Premier League

Sanches’ wayward pass into the Stamford Bridge advertising boards was one of the over-riding memories of his season in the Premier League

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“Renato knows he has had a very bad season. He is not at the level he was and when he had the injury in January, it finished him,” he said.

“Renato has a big talent, but he has much to learn. He stopped learning when he left Benfica and went to one of the biggest clubs in the world.”

Back with Bayern and under the management of Niko Kovac, who had made it clear he believed in him, Sanches finally started to show flashes of why the club had laid out so much money to acquire him.

However, familiar injury problems returned and at the conclusion of the 2018/19 campaign, it was clear another move would be required.

Lille instantly made him their most expensive ever signing and after helping them to fourth in his first campaign, he inspired them to the most unlikely Ligue 1 triumph last term, overcoming PSG in a memorable title race.

As so often happens, the winning underdog team has been quickly broken up and, although Sanches remained, he has made it clear he is ready for his next move.

Arsenal are one of the suitors chasing the midfielder, who will now be available in a cut-price deal due to his contractual situation – he will be a free agent in 2023 – and Lille’s financial woes.

Paul Pogba dismisses reports that he has been offered a new £500,000 wage deal by Manchester United.

“Maybe Milan and Arsenal are interested but I don’t know,” Sanches said at the end of last year. “I spoke with my agent, I know which clubs are calling me but I can’t say right now.

Renato Sanches has now confirmed he is ready for a move, with Arsenal one of the clubs linked

Renato Sanches has now confirmed he is ready for a move, with Arsenal one of the clubs linked

“But I know I’m ready. If an offer comes in, I’ll find out what’s best for me.”

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has made it clear that any signings he makes will be with the prerequisite that they take his squad to the “next level”.

And for some, that viral moment at Stamford Bridge four years ago served as a potential warning that, for whatever reason, he wasn’t the type of player which could thrive in the Premier League.

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Well if those doubts remained behind the scenes at the Emirates, they were surely quashed on Tuesday night, with Sanches proving, once and for all, that the Swansea City version of Renato Sanches is a distant memory.

Based on the evidence of his redemption at the ground that provided one of his lowest moments, Sanches is ready to take Arsenal exactly where they want to be…the next level

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Comments (1)

  1. Good luck to him

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