Sanches out to kick-start Bayern career on US tour
Munich (Germany) (AFP)
After two underwhelming seasons, Euro 2016 winner Renato Sanches hopes to kick-start his Bayern Munich career on the German champions' US tour, which starts Thursday against Juventus.
Sanches marked his Munich return, after an injury-hit loan spell at Swansea last season, with a stunning free-kick in a 3-1 friendly win over Paris Saint-Germain in Austria last Saturday.
Now he hopes to make himself a firm part of Bayern's first team under new coach Niko Kovac by impressing on their short tour of the United States.
"I feel that I can live up to expectations this year. The US tour is a great opportunity for me," said Sanches.
Bayern play Juventus, minus their star signing Cristiano Ronaldo who has not travelled to North America, in Philadelphia on Thursday, then Manchester City in Miami on Sunday as part of the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament.
Sanches became a forgotten man after failing to break into the Bayern team following his high-profile 31.5-million-euro ($36.8m) move from Benfica just before helping Portugal win the European Championship two years ago.
At just 18 years, ten months and 23 days old, he was the youngest winner of the Euros when Portugal beat France 1-0 in Paris and was voted Best Young Player of the tournament.
However, his career stalled badly in his first season at Bayern, making just six starts in the Bundesliga and two in the Champions League in 2016/17.
The defensive midfielder, dubbed the "Rasta rocket" for his dreadlocks by Munich's tabloid papers, never came up to speed and was sent on loan to Swansea.
Injuries to his thigh and hamstring restricted him to just nine Premier League starts for the Welsh club last season before he returned to Munich, but has impressed new Bayern coach Kovac.
"He's very motivated in training. He's been hitting the gas for three weeks, so I'm pleased he turned in a good performance with a nice goal," said Kovac.
"He'll surely turn in many good displays for FC Bayern this season. I know what he's capable of.
"The boy needs affection and support from everyone, not only his team-mates or the coach but from the whole club."
Sanches says he matured in Swansea as he bids to break into Bayern's star-studded side, which will be out to win a seventh straight Bundesliga title in 2018/19.
"It was a step out of the comfort zone," said Sanches. "I learned English, for example, and that also gave me confidence."
© 2018 AFP