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Renato Júnior Luz Sanches
Date of birth
18 August 1997
Place of birth
1.76 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)
Águias da Musgueira
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(* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 8 May 2016 - National team caps and goals correct as of 22:11, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Renato Júnior Luz Sanches, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for German club Bayern Munich and the Portugal national team.
He began his career at Benfica, making his professional debut for the reserves in October 2014 and for the first team in October 2015.
In his only season for them, the team won the Primeira Liga and Taça da Liga.
He then agreed a move to Bayern Munich for an initial €35 million, the highest fee for a Portuguese player leaving the domestic league.
Sanches won 40 caps and scored 8 goals for Portugal at youth level.
He made his full international debut in March 2016 and was chosen for UEFA Euro 2016 at the age of 18, making him the youngest Portuguese to play in an international tournament.
He scored one goal throughout the competition and won the Young Player of the Tournament as Portugal captured the title for the first time in their history.
Sanches was born in the Hospital Amadora-Sintra in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, to a father also named Renato Sanches from São Tomé and Príncipe, and a mother named Maria das Dores from Cape Verde.
Nicknamed Bulo by his grandmother, he grew up in the impoverished Lisbon neighbourhood of Musgueira.
His parents split up months after his birth, and his father moved to work in France.
Sanches' birth was not registered until his father returned in 2002 and the parents had him baptised.
He was registered on 22 August 2002 with the birthdate of 3:25 p.m. on 18 August 1997.
He started training in football at Águias da Musgueira when he was 8, and joined S.L. Benfica's youth system in 2006, aged 9.
The team paid €750 and 25 footballs for his signature.
He convinced Benfica to take him after training with them for 15 minutes, but he initially had reservations about travelling to their academy in Seixal every day, on the other side of the Tagus river.
Sanches made his professional debut in the 2014-15 campaign, with the B-team in the second division.
He made his first appearance in the competition on 5 October 2014, starting and playing the first half of the 2:2 away draw against Feirense.
He was sent off twice with straight red cards in the second half of the season: as a substitute in a 3:2 home win over Porto B on 11 January 2015, and a starter in a 1:1 draw at Santa Clara on 7 March.
After one year with the reserve team, in 2015-16, he was promoted to the first team; initially only for the training sessions.
He remained playing in the reserves, and on 30 August 2015 he scored his first goal in their 2:1 loss at Varzim, opening the scoring within two minutes.
Seventeen days later, he scored two penalty kicks in a 3:2 loss at Aves.
On 21 October, in the UEFA Youth League, he scored in an away 11:1 group stage win over Galatasaray.
Nine days later, Sanches made his debut for the first team, replacing Jonas in the 74th minute of a 4:0 win against Tondela.
After the international break in November 2015, Sanches signed a new contract with Benfica until 2021, with a release clause set at €45 million.
On the 25th, he made his first appearance in the starting line-up, playing 90 minutes in a 2:2 away draw with Astana for the UEFA Champions League's group stage.
On the following Monday, Sanches started again, this time in a Primeira Liga win at Braga, receiving praise from the media for his performance.
Aged 18, on 4 December, he scored his first goal for Benfica, beating Académica's goalkeeper Trigueira with a 30-metre strike, sealing the 3:0 league win, and became Benfica's youngest player to score a home goal in the 21st century, at the Estádio da Luz.
It was selected as the Goal of the Month.
He added a second goal on 2 January, the game's only at Vitória de Guimarães in the league.
On 24 April, he was a target of racism by some Rio Ave supporters, who made monkey noises when he was leaving the pitch after a 1:0 away victory. He responded to the provocation with a smile and moved his arms, mimicking a monkey.
On 8 May, Sanches was sent off for a second yellow card in the first half of a 2:0 win at Marítimo, missing Benfica's last league match in which they retained their title at the expense of city rivals Sporting with victory over Nacional.
In his last game, the 2016 Taça da Liga Final in Coimbra on 20 May, Benfica won the league cup 6:2 against Marítimo.
On 10 May 2016, Sanches signed a five-year contract effective from 1 July with German club Bayern Munich for €35 million, in a deal totalling €80 million, with the additional €45 million depending on objectives.
With this transfer he became the most expensive Portuguese player to leave the domestic league, as well as the first Portuguese player to join the Bavarian side.
The initial fee was the fourth-highest paid in Bayern Munich's history, after those for Javi Martínez, Mario Götze and Arturo Vidal.
Sanches had been tracked extensively by Manchester United before joining Bayern, and their Portuguese former player Nani said that they would regret not completing a deal for him.
Sanches gained 40 caps for Portugal all youth categories comprised.
He represented Portugal in the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, helping them reach the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual winners, England.
He was named in the Team of the Tournament.
On 18 March 2016, he was called-up by Fernando Santos for the senior squad to play friendlies against Bulgaria and Belgium.
He debuted for Portugal as a 76th-minute substitute for William Carvalho in the 0:1 loss against Bulgaria in Leiria, and shortly after he was greeted by a fan who invaded the pitch.
Sanches was called up for UEFA Euro 2016, making him the youngest Portuguese to be selected for an international competition, breaking a record held by Cristiano Ronaldo for 12 years.
He made his competitive debut on 14 June in the team's opening game against Iceland in Saint-Étienne, replacing João Moutinho for the final 19 minutes of a 1:1 draw.
He contributed to the only goal of the match in a 1:0 extra-time victory in the last 16 against Croatia on 25 June, and was elected man of the match.
Observing that performance, former international player António Sousa stated "When he's on the ball you don't notice how young he is.
Physically and mentally, he is more than ready" and Santos exalted Sanches as a player immune to pressure.
Five days later in the quarter-finals against Poland, he took Ronaldo's record as the youngest Portuguese to start in a major tournament.
After a one-two with Nani, he shot from outside the box and equalised in the first half to become the youngest player to score in a knockout game at the European Championship and the third-youngest overall.
Following the 1:1 draw, he scored Portugal's second attempt in their penalty shootout victory, and was again elected man of the match.
Following the game, his teammates Nani and José Fonte praised Sanches' stamina, confidence and desire to learn from his elders.
After his nation's 1:0 extra-time victory over hosts France in the final of the tournament, Sanches was awarded the Young Player of the Tournament Award for his performances.
Style of play
Sanches has been noted for his versatility in midfield, being comfortable in defensive, attacking, central and wide roles.
His attributes include physical strength, passing ability, and being composed in possession.
For these traits and his hairstyle, he has been likened to the Dutchman Edgar Davids.
However, in an interview to Benfica TV, Sanches compared his style with that of another Dutchman of Davids' era, Clarence Seedorf.
During Euro 2016, former Benfica and Netherlands player, Pierre van Hooijdonk, also drew comparison with Seedorf, stating "the way they play is the same, the intensity also".
Opponents of Sanches have claimed that he is older than his birth certificate states, basing their judgement on the gap between his birth and its registration.
In March 2016, as Sporting challenged Benfica for the league title, the former's president Bruno de Carvalho accused Sanches of lying about his age.
The player ordered Carvalho to publicly apologise, or face a lawsuit for defamation.
During Euro 2016, French former manager Guy Roux made a similar accusation.
According to Goal.com writer Miles Chambers, the accusations against Sanches stem from conscious or unconscious racial stereotyping, based on historical occasions in which players from the African continent have lied about their age, although he was born in Portugal.
On 8 July 2016 the hospital where Sanches was born published the document which proves that he was born on 18 August 1997 at 3:25 p.m.