Renato Sanches must have truly felt on top of the world after Portugal lifted the Euro 2016 trophy.
The young midfielder was named the Young Player of the Tournament, becoming the youngest player to clinch the showpiece in the process, and earned himself a further shot at stardom with a move to Bayern Munich.
But an rapid ascent to the lofty heights of the game can often be followed by a chastening plummet to the bottom, with Sanches’ dramatic fall encompassing a horror switch to Swansea and exclusion on the international stage.
Renato Sanches impressed for Portugal at Euro 2016 but must battle back into the squad
The 22-year-old has slowly began to piece back together the tattered remains of a promising career, netting against Lyon in midweek and impressing from the base of Lille’s midfield.
The wonderkid, who broke free from a troubled Lisbon neigbourhood before emerging spectacularly into the limelight, more than caught the eye in the Champions League chasers’ Coupe de la Ligue defeat.
Lille coach Christophe Galtier lauded Sanches’ displays this campaign to the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS, saying: ‘He has a capacity to play. He has personality, his balance is excellent. He’s a high-level player who needs to apply his qualities in service of the team.’
Sanches has netted twice this season, and begun to justify his position as the club’s flagship addition from last summer.
And after penning a four-year contract in France, the former Benfica prodigy rapidly set about changing the perception that his career at the highest level had fizzled out almost as quickly as it began.
The wonderkid caught the eye against Lyon and is justifying becoming Lille’s flagship addition
The unstoppable forays forward that earned him a big-money transfer to Bavaria in 2016 have crept back into his repertoire, and the confidence worthy of the highest accolades at an international tournament also appears to have returned.
An example of Sanches’ restored audacity came against Montpellier in December, when the star drifted beyond Arnaud Souquet after feigning one direction before heading in the other.
Leaving his opponent flailing in his wake, Sanches’ delivery was poor and struck the first man, but the desire to entrance spectators once again is a clear indication the player has rediscovered his footing in the French top division.
His ability to dance his way into dangerous positions now is in stark contrast to his ill-fated spell with Swansea, when one of the world’s most promising talents was subjected to an overwhelming amount of mockery.
A clash against Chelsea in November 2017 resulted in Sanches being substituted at half-time, with the highly-coveted signing playing a pass towards the advertising hoardings after mistaking it for a team-mate.
That comical moment, coupled with a pair of dogged hamstring injuries a couple of months later, signalled Sanches’ drop into mediocrity, with Swans boss Carlos Carvalhal even claiming the midfielder ‘stopped…