For as long as I can remember, Portugal has been synonymous with one name: Cristiano Ronaldo. But the winds of change are a blowin’, and there’s a new young sheriff on the block: Renato Sanches.
Cristiano Ronaldo is 31 years old and has failed to deliver for Portugal at every opportunity. He has never lifted a trophy for his country. Second place in Euro 2004 doesn’t count, nor does 3rd at the 2006 World Cup. We only count winners around here.
Yes, Ronaldo’s got a few good years left. He’s in peak physical condition and understands how to take care of himself, so his lifespan as a soccer player will probably extend beyond that of your average striker. But time waits for no man.
As his career wanes, many have wondered, “what will happen to Portugal?”
Renato Sanches will happen.
The 18-year-old plays with the confidence of a 25-year-old who’s been in the national team fold for the better part of a decade. He’s deceptively strong, supremely balanced, and has incredible stamina.
He looks like Predator because he is a predator, feasting on defenses ill-equipped to deal with his speed and power.
His low center of gravity makes him damn near impossible to knock off the ball; like folding a piece of paper in half seven times.
Sanches turned pro at just 16 years old with Portuguese side Benefica. He lasted two years there before Bayern Munich plucked him like a $39 million eyelash. He’s sure to make a splash next year in the Bundesliga when he lands, so keep your eyes peeled .
He is the most expensive player to ever leave the Portuguese league. His $39 million price tag could soar as high as $88 million pending his performance with Bayern Munich.
The best part about Sanches? He doesn’t pout, flop, and flail about like another Portuguese start who shall remain nameless.
He plays hard until the final whistle. The wind blows, his dreads swang. He has hair like war, like Wayne.
It wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo who got the all-important goal for Portugal against Poland in the quarterfinal of the Euro, it was Renato Sanches.
He’s a danger man.
His passes are crisp, his runs are deliberate, and he’s not afraid to take people on.
And he’s five years younger than Paul Pogba.
Watch out, world. Renato Sanches is coming.