Renato Júnior Luz Sanches ComM (born 18 August 1997) 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 then highest fee for a Portuguese player leaving the domestic league.
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”.
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, and the youngest player to win a Euro 2016 Final. 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. He was the recipient of the 2016 Golden Boy Award.
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.