Renato Sanches: I still want to win the Ballon d'Or

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The 21-year-old midfielder believes he can overcome the disappointment of the last couple of seasons and win football's top individual award

After struggling with his big money move to Bayern Munich, and a disappointing loan spell with Swansea City last season, Renato Sanches has said he still has ambitions of winning the Ballon d'Or

Football's biggest honour seems a long way off for the midfielder, but in the summer of 2016 he was seen as one of the best teenagers in world football after a triumphant European Championship with Portugal, though he himself admits that he has not lived up to that potential.

Sanches, who has played 19 times in all competitions for Bayern this season, scoring once, wrote an article for The Players Tribune in which he acknowledged his difficulties, but made clear he did not think it was too late to add to that Euro 2016 trophy won as a teenager.

“My first season at Bayern wasn’t ideal. I know that. I heard what people were saying about me,” the 21-year-old said. “Football in Munich, and in Germany as a whole, is so different.

“In Portugal, I would just run and run and run because I had the technical ability and awareness to make up for any fatigue.

“In Germany, you can run, but the game is so fast that it has to be coordinated otherwise you’ll get caught out of position. Everything was just... different.

“The worst part was that, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t find my game. I went to Swansea in 2017 because I needed to play. I needed minutes.

Renato Sanches Swansea City

“I wanted to make sure the national team saw me playing a lot in a strong league so they could select me for the World Cup. But in Wales... it’s just like everything went wrong.

“[But] last summer, playing with Bayern again, I feel like I began to find my game. I had these big goals after we won the Euros. I wanted to win the Ballon d’Or, win all these medals and trophies.

“And I still have those ambitions.”

Sanches knows that being selected as the world's best footballer is still some way away, instead focusing on repaying the faith shown in him when Bayern shelled out €35 million (£30m/$40m) for his services.

“Now when I picture my future, [the Ballon d'Or] comes after my new dreams.

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“I want to be in great shape. I want to play more minutes. I want to keep hearing people around Munich say, 'That’s the Renato we signed, that’s why we got him'.

“I feel like, with time, I’ll get there. This season has been getting better for us, and for me. I know we can keep improving, and I know that I’m capable of much more."

“My journey hasn’t been simple. But it’s not over. Not even close.”

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