Renato Sanches, 18, is establishing himself in Benfica's midfield, rising from the UEFA Youth League to the UEFA Champions League and scoring his first senior goal.
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The last two months have been memorable ones for Renato Sanches. The 18-year-old has gone from the Benfica B side and the UEFA Youth League to a regular slot with the first team, debuting in the UEFA Champions League and scoring his first senior goal. Meet UEFA.com's latest weekly wonderkid, who last week signed a new contract that ties him to the Lisbon club until 2021.
Name: Renato Sanches
Debut: 30 October 2015 v Tondela
Position: central midfielder
Date of birth: 18 August 1997
Preferred foot: right
Height: 176 cm
They say …
"Renato was wonderful. A first start at Estádio da Luz for a young man is every player's dream. It was a great [full home] debut. Surely he will not forget this performance."
Benfica coach Rui Vitória after Renato Sanches marked his first home start – against Académica de Coimbra on 4 December – with a goal.
"He has a strong shot and good vision for someone in his position. It's always nice to see good young players."
Diego Simeone on the eve of Atlético Madrid's UEFA Champions League matchday six encounter with Benfica.
Born in Lisbon, Renato Sanches joined Benfica in 2006 at the age of nine. He progressed through the Eagles' youth setup and made his debut for the club's B side in a Portuguese second-tier fixture in October 2014.
The midfielder remained with the reserves for the start of this season, while also playing in two of Benfica's first three UEFA Youth League fixtures, but before long he was training with the seniors. Cameo appearances against Tondela and Boavista were followed by his UEFA Champions League bow – a 2-2 matchday five draw in Astana – and his first goal, a fantastic long-range strike versus Académica.
Playing style …
Physically strong, Renato Sanches is cool under pressure and exudes quality in possession – he knows when to play it simple, when to hold the ball and when to challenge an opponent. Whether as a box-to-box man, a holding midfielder or a No10, the teenager is comfortable in a number of central roles.
Shades of …
His braided hair makes for obvious comparisons with Edgar Davids and, like the Dutchman, he exhibits courage, determination and dynamism in abundance.
Eureka moment …
With the Liga champions leading Académica earlier this month, Renato Sanches announced himself to a wider audience with a 35-metre shot that made it 3-0 five minutes from time.
Best-case scenario …
A regular of late for Benfica, the Portugal Under-19 player's next goal will be to emulate team-mates Nélson Semedo, 22, and Gonçalo Guedes, 19, in becoming a senior international. UEFA EURO 2016, anybody?
He says …
"I know I still have to develop. I'm 18. Over time, and with the help of my colleagues, I will improve."
"Scoring was an unforgettable moment. It is like a dream. I didn't know what to do. I never thought I would be playing here at 18. It's a childhood dream to play at Estádio da Luz."