Renato Sanches played only his third full ninety minutes of the season this weekend, but the impressive nature of the Portugal midfielder’s performance in Lille’s 1-0 win over Dijon has led to much optimism.

Sanches returned to the Lille line-up for the first time since September at the State Pierre-Mauroy on Saturday, joining José Fonte and Xeka in Christophe Galtier’s side. Victor Osimhen’s penalty on the stroke of half time gave the hosts all three points and lifted Lille up to 8th place with a much-needed victory.

But it was the performance of Sanches which caught the eye of many in attendance. The former Benfica man, who went close with a dipping shot which was tipped over by Dijon goalkeeper Alfred Gomis shortly before the goal, offered a complete and dynamic performance in the heart of the midfield.

Speaking after the match, Lille boss Galtier answered questions about the 22-year-old’s showing. “[Renato’s performance] doesn’t surprise me. He’s a guy who works hard and gets frustrated when he doesn’t play and I realised I needed to start him in this game. He showed all his qualities and when he got the ball he revealed his tremendous ability to break the lines. I’m happy for him as it’s a long time since he completed a full match.”

By Sean Gillen

@SeanGillen9

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Just in time for the group of death

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A fully fit, confident Renato Sanches would be a massive boost to the Seleção. I can't see him starting over the likes of William or Bruno Fernandes, but I'd much rather have a hungry Renato to call upon to add some spark and energy than a João...

A fully fit, confident Renato Sanches would be a massive boost to the Seleção. I can't see him starting over the likes of William or Bruno Fernandes, but I'd much rather have a hungry Renato to call upon to add some spark and energy than a João Mário or Pizzi.

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