Renato Sanches has claimed that former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac blocked a potential move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Sanches, now 22 and in Ligue 1 with Lille, struggled for regular game time in the Bundesliga under Kovac, who was sacked earlier this season.
Frustrated in Munich despite his affection for the club, Sanches was eager for a chance at PSG – but the move fell through.
“I had spoken with Antero [Henrique, the former sporting director]. He had spoken to my agent, Jorge [Mendes],” he explained to l’Equipe.
“We had a good conversation. Everything was ready. I remember I was at a restaurant when my agent called me.
“He said to me: ‘Tomorrow you’re flying to Paris.’ I said OK, I went home and packed my bags. And the next day, during training, my coach [Kovac] said to me: ‘You are not leaving!’
“I stayed. And I did not play. The next game, he gave me five minutes. It was not enough.
“I lost my place in the national team, I lost my form. My colleagues asked me why I was not playing.
“However, I was good in training. One of the best. In an interview, Niklas Sule said: ‘Renato is always the best in training.’ And it was the same again last summer.”
Signed from Benfica in 2016 as one of Europe’s biggest prospects, Sanches never quite made the grade at Bayern and struggled for form on an infamous loan spell at Swansea.
However, by the time he left, he believes he was good enough to make the grade in Bavaria.
“I was ready to play at Bayern. My president and my coach knew it.
“Munich had become my home. But when I saw that things were not changing, I spoke with Jose [Fonte, the Lille defender], Luis Campos [the advisor to the president]. Everyday.
“We met in Lisbon when I was on vacation. I said, ‘Ok, I want to come to Lille.’ My agent gave me other offers. But my choice was Lille. I felt confident. I felt good.
“I spoke with the coach, the president. It confirmed my desire. Besides, Lille is not a small club. We play against good teams like Marseille, Lyon, Paris.
“If you do the job well, you play well, you will get recognition. But what I wanted was to play, to be happy again.”