It was billed as one of the best signings of the summer, with the build-up to Sunday’s encounter revolving around not if, but how much Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches would dazzle on his Swansea debut.
Swansea manager Paul Clement had utilised all of his contacts at the German giants to lure the Portuguese wonder-kid to Wales on a season-long loan and it’s fair to say the anticipation was set high.
But the 20-year-old clearly didn’t read the script ahead of his first Premier League appearance against Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium, struggling to make any sort of impact in a bad day’s work.
The Portuguese international was off the pace from the first whistle, failing to find any sort of comfortable rhythm in the heart of the Swansea midfield and Newcastle simply capitalised on this.
Whilst Sanches saw a lot of the ball in the middle of the park he did very little with it, being dispossessed an unforgiveable 23 times by the opposition and completing just 79% of his attempted passes during his time on the pitch, and it’s a fair evaluation that Matt Richie did a good job on him.
The Bayern Munich man has come to the Premier League known for his box-to-box ability and his flair on the ball but his confidence was clearly shot after his poor start to the match and he failed to create a single opportunity for his team going forward, often failing to keep pace with their attacks.
Yet, whilst it was far from a dream debut for the 20-year-old, one game won’t define his time at Swansea and everybody knows he possesses the raw potential and talent to become a success story.
The youngster in fact only arrived at Swansea’s training ground on Friday – meaning he had just two days training with the squad prior to Newcastle’s test – so his performance was never going to be spectacular.
After being part of two teams that dominate their respective leagues in Benfica and Bayern Munich it’ll no doubt take time to adjust to playing for a bottom-half side, where there are no easy matches.
But Sanches is too good to simply pale into insignificance in the Premier League and the key is for Clement to abolish his nerves and fears as quickly as possible so he can regain a sense of confidence.
It was relatively clear that Sanches wasn’t ready to play on Sunday after just two days, but now Clement has a week to work with him to ensure he puts his debut behind him and improves against Tottenham.