Renato Sanches has been named as one of the flops of the Bundesliga season by Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus.
Sanches, 19, winner of the 2016 Golden Boy award and voted Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016, has struggled to meet expectations at Bayern since his €35 million move last summer from Benfica.
In his first campaign in Bavaria, the Portugal international only started six Bundesliga games, while failing to score or provide an assist in 25 appearances in all competitions and completing 90 minutes just once.
“Bayern’s Renato Sanches may still be young and a move abroad difficult but you would expect more minutes with a €35m transfer fee. But Sanches didn’t deserve to play more,” Matthaus wrote in his Sport Bild column, in which he named Sanches as one of the biggest Bundesliga flops behind Borussia Dortmund’s Andre Schurrle and Wolfsburg’s Luiz Gustavo.
Sanches admitted last month that his first campaign at Bayern has been underwhelming.
“Honestly, I have to say my first season here wasn’t particularly good,” he said. “But I won’t let it get me down and I’m certain the coming season will be better for me. Personally speaking, I expected more in my first year, but next year will definitely be better.”
There have been suggestions the midfielder could benefit from a loan move, following in the footsteps of now-retired Philipp Lahm (Stuttgart), David Alaba (Hoffenheim) and Toni Kroos (Bayer Leverkusen), who all enjoyed productive spells away from Bayern learning their trade.
However, despite Sanches’ unimpressive start to his career in Germany, Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti has ruled out selling or sending him out on loan.
Bayern paid €35m for Sanches last summer but the fee could eventually rise to as high as €80m, with further add-ons for FIFA Team of the Year recognition or a nomination for the final three of the Ballon d’Or.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.