Benfica may Parade United Target Sanches at SuperCupNI

May 1, 2016 | General

Football fans here could get lucky this summer and catch another glimpse of Portugal’s latest rising star, Renato Sanches, if he doesn’t sign for Manchester United before the tournament!


United are hopeful of beating off fierce competition to land Benfica’s central midfielder for a reported £46m after talks with the Portuguese club progressed well.


But organisers of the SuperCupNI are hoping that Sanches might be included in the Benfica squad competing in the inaugural Under-21 tournament in the Province this July.


The 18-year-old, who played for Benfica at the 2012 Premier tournament, has been on a rapid ascent to the top ever since. This season he has established himself as a key presence in the Benfica midfield despite only making his league debut at the end of October.


He has since made 28 appearances in all competitions, including five in the Champions League, and scored twice. Sanches also has two full international appearances for Portugal under his belt.


Benfica have confirmed they will join Celtic, Real Sociedad and Everton in the competition which will precede the Premier and Junior events this year.


“Benfica have some world class young players on board for the tournament and we believe the standard will be exceptional,” said tournament chairman Victor Leonard.


Everton’s return after missing out last year for the first time in two decades is a major boost for the event. They are one of the most successful clubs at the tournament where they previously competed at junior level, winning six of the nine finals they appeared in.


Big names such as Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley, Joey Barton, Phil Jagielka, Stephen McManus and Leon Osman have all played for the Toffees at the event.


Victor added: “We have a strong relationship with Everton established when David Moyes was in charge. They brought over a near full strength team to play a Northern Ireland select to help us celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2007.”


The U-21 tournament starts on Thursday, July 21, with the final at Ballymena Showgrounds the following Saturday.


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