Portugal manager Fernando Santos has included 18-year-old Renato Sanches in his 23-man squad ahead of the upcoming European Championships.
The midfielder recently completed a €35m move to Bayern Munich following a fruitful spell with Benfica, which concluded in a 35th Liga NOS title last weekend, and has now earned a spot in Fernando Santos’ squad despite harbouring just two caps.
Bernardo Silva, Danny and Fabio Coentrao all miss out on the finals due to injuries sustained whilst on duty with their respective clubs.
All 24 sides have until 31 May to submit their final squads for the tournament, which starts in France from 10 June to 10 July.
Sanches addition caps of fantastic season for youngster
Renato Sanches has enjoyed a prosperous campaign since joining the Benfica first team in October, making 26 league appearances for the Eagles after graduating from the club’s famed academy in 2015.
The box-to-box midfielder quickly became an integral part of Rui Vitoria’s 4-4-2 system and subsequently ensured that, due to his work rate and energy amongst many other world class assets, the champions were not overrun despite the opposition’s numerical advantage in central midfield.
Benfica lost just once in the 26 league games that followed Sanches’ introduction and Santos, 61, duly handed the teenager his Portugal debut in a 1-0 defeat to Bulgaria in March.
Plenty capable of starring for Portugal
Goalkeepers Rui Patricio, Anthony Lopes and Eduardo retained their places in the national team set-up with the former two impressing in Portugal and France.
Meanwhile, defender Raphael Guerreiro told Le Parisien that he had declined a move to Paris Saint-Germain last summer in order to obtain a place in Santos’ squad for Euro 16 and deservedly got his call-up following an ineffable year with Lorient. The 22-year-old offers the pace, versatility and vital width his country require from a starting left-back position left vacant by the injured Fabio Coentrao.
An incredibly young midfield will be without Zenit captain Danny or the promising Bernardo Silva after they were ruled out with thigh and knee injuries respectively. However, the quality of figurehead Joao Moutinho and the exuberance of the youthful Sanches, William Carvalho, Andre Gomes and Joao Mario will be hoping to strike a fine balance in an expected 4-2-2-2 formation.
Portugal’s leading top scorer and three-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, has of course been included in what could possibly be his last Euros before retirement.
The Real Madrid winger netted five times during the qualifying stages, which saw Selecção advance automatically as group winners, and will be hoping to produce similar form in order to become the eighth player to win the Champions League and the European Championships in the same summer.
The Portuguese open their European Championship campaign against Iceland on 14 June before facing Austria and Hungary in Group F.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Eduardo (Dinamo Zagreb).
Defenders: Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient), Cedric (Southampton), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Eliseu (Benfica).
Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting), Renato Sanches (Benfica), Joao Mario (Sporting), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Rafa (Braga), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Adrien (Sporting), Danilo (Porto).
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Swansea), Nani (Fenerbahce), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas).