We at Cartilage Free Captain do transfer rumors often, and we do them well. But sometimes it’s worth doing a deeper dive into Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer targets, so we’re bringing back a series from a couple of years ago — Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist. These are players that Spurs have either been linked to in the transfer window, or sometimes who they should be linked to as the club tries to improve to challenge for a Premier League title.
Up next: Its a longshot! Bayern Münich winger Renato Sanches
Name: Renato Sanches
Team: FC Bayern Münich
Primary position: Winger
Can also play: Central Midfield, Attacking Midfield
Renato Sanches burst into the consciousness of world football during the UEFA 2016 European Championship. At eighteen years of age he broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record as the youngest Portuguese national to feature in an international competition and when he arrived in France he didn’t disappoint. Sanches bedazzled throughout the tournament showcasing fresh skill, power, pace, and trickery against Europe’s best. He also brought home a championship trophy for Portugal and the Young Player of the Tournament award for himself.
Later that year, in October of 2016, he received the Golden Boy award, a recognition from sports journalists as the best player in Europe under the age of twenty-one in a calendar year. While Euro 2016 raised Sanches’ profile and popularity considerably, it wasn’t as if he was an unknown quantity. In May 2016, Bayern Munich purchased Sanches for a Primeira Liga record of €35 million, with an additional €45 million of potential add-ons dependent on his accomplishments at the Allianz Arena.
It was surprising then how much the now nineteen-year-old struggled in his first season with Bayern. Sanches made just seventeen appearances in the Bundesliga, registered zero goals and assists, and only played a full ninety minutes once all season. He was a shadow of the player he was for Portugal and Benfica and failed to make the Portuguese roster for the 2017 Confederations Cup. Heading into his second season with Bayern, Sanches’ future at the club is already uncertain.
Renato Sanches had about as much pedigree to his name as a prospect can and for good reason — the guy is electric. At an insanely young age he wowed the world at the Euros and, even before that, convinced Bayern Munich to shell out their fourth largest transfer fee ever; for a eighteen-year-old no less.
Sanches has the pace and skill of a top class winger. He has the knack that the great attackers possess where somehow, someway, the ball seems to be continually glued to their feet. Combine this with a pinpoint touch, effortless flair, bravado with the ball, and power beyond his years and you have a formidable footballer. Yet what sets Sanches apart is his versatility. Raheem Sterling was impressive at eighteen with Liverpool, but he was a pretty one dimensional player. Now I understand that Sterling, as he progressed, has played a number of positions for both City and Liverpool, yet he wasn’t able to do that in his teens. Sanches actually can. He can legitimately play in the center of the park, as a number ten, across the attacking band, or as an out and out winger. Sure he didn’t play much at all in the past season with Bayern, but his talent, versatility, and potential make him a tantalizing signing for nearly every club in the world.
Carlo Ancelotti and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have both hinted that Sanches isn’t really in their plans for the 2017-18 season and that they are open for offers. Earlier in the summer there was interest from AC Milan and rumors are circulating of Manchester United, a potential suitor of Sanches’ last spring, might be preparing a bid. The big question lies in whether or not Bayern will sanction an outright sale or just a loan to give the youngster more time to develop. Where are Spurs in all of this? Well, nowhere really. But the tile of this series includes the words “imaginary” in it doesn’t it? Rummenigge has mentioned that a figure of £43 million would be acceptable for the Portuguese international, which would be massive amount of money for Tottenham Hotspur to spend, but not completely out of the realm of possibility for a player like Sanches.
Likely price: £50 million plus
Chances that the valuation is wrong: Sanches was a bit part in Bayern’s team last year and the hierarchy of Munich has indicated that he’ll struggle for minutes once again. £43 million pounds is an actual figure quoted by Rummenigge, but its *really* hard to envision one of the most promising young players in world football to go for a fee that low. With twenty-seven year old Kyle Walker and twenty-six year old Alexandre Lancazette already breaking £50 million pound transfers in this Premier League season, Bayern surely can get more for Sanches.
Team’s willingness to sell: Unclear. It seems their willingness to let him play elsewhere this year is high, but a sale might be a whole other story. At £43 million they get their initial transfer fee and then some back for Sanches. Bayern are also not a club particularly conducive to nurturing and development young talent. Yet with the transfer market for players ever inflating, it just seems bad business to let Sanches go for that price. I think a bid of £45-£50 would turn their head, but unfortunately for Tottenham Hotspur, there are bigger sharks circulating around the Portuguese international if he truly becomes available.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Sanches will have competition at Tottenham Hotspur for minutes, but so would he at basically every other decent club he’d transfer to. In terms of Spurs, he’d have a wonderful opportunity to immediately become the fourth option in the attacking band and third to start the season with Sonny’s broken arm. With Sissoko likely (hopefully) leaving this summer, Erik Lamela’s long-term health uncertain, and Sonny injured, Tottenham need more depth in their attacking midfield places. Further, and while he isn’t an ideal option here, he could also spell Mousa Dembélé and provide extra competition to Harry Winks in the center of the park. Yet those estimates of what he could do right now are low. Sanches is a year removed from an unbelievable Euro 2016 and was the hottest commodity in Europe last summer. If he could regain any resemblance of that form, £45 million would be a steal, and he’d make a massive impact in the side.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: The links are almost nonexistent to Tottenham Hotspur and one would have to imagine that multiple big clubs, most notably United, would start a bidding war with Spurs if they came close to signing him. There is a 99.9% chance that this won’t happen, but the player, the figures associated with the transfer, and Tottenham Hotspur’s current needs — not to mention their transfer philosophy — align incredibly well with signing Sanches. Probably would prefer Kovačić in the “dream” transfer scenario right now as the Croat can contribute more effectively straight away on a team that is built to win now, but Sanches isn’t too far behind and could be a far more lucrative player to own going forward. If he is available for £43 million, GET IT DONE LEVY, he’ll be a nine figure asset in two years if he pans out.
Grade if this transfer goes through: A+