Renato Sanches could follow Mohamed Salah's road to Liverpool success

Robbie Copeland
Sanches could be on his way to Merseyside
Sanches could be on his way to Merseyside / Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Few in the Premier League would have touched Renato Sanches back in 2018 after his ill-fated loan move to Swansea.

Then just 20, he looked woefully out of his depth at the top table of English football, misplacing simple passes all over the shop and failing to force his way into a team who, let's face it, weren't very good.

But you don't play 35 times for Benfica and earn a £35m move to Bayern Munich before your 17th birthday unless there is a player in there somewhere, however. And given time to work on his game outside the expectant glare that comes at Europe's elite clubs, Sanches has dug deep to find it.

Four years on from the transfer window that took him to the south coast of Wales, Sanches' stock has never been higher than it is now. He's just played a central part in overthrowing Paris Saint-Germain's longstanding dominance of Ligue 1, and Lille are preparing to cash in on his startling rediscovery of his early potential this summer.

Liverpool are the club most heavily linked with a move for the 23-year-old, and that's no real surprise, considering they have a Georginio Wijnaldum-shaped hole to fill.

Sanches' boundless energy and sublime ball-retention skills make him the ideal fit, and if he is available for around £45m as is being reported, then it would represent some very smart business from Michael Edwards and co.

The fact that he once failed at Swansea has inevitably been cast up as a big red cross against a potential deal, but it won't - and shouldn't - factor into Liverpool's thinking.

It's a story the Reds have heard before, after all. Mohamed Salah was a Chelsea flop when he arrived from Roma, and four years on, he stands on 125 goals for the club - the 12th most of any player in their history.

Kevin De Bruyne faced similar criticisms when he first swapped the Premier League for the Bundesliga in 2014. Within two years, he was back in the England with Man City, and he's now the best midfielder on the planet.

You could go on all night, but there's no need to.

When you look past one small blip on Sanches' otherwise formidable career trajectory, it's pretty clear he's exactly what Liverpool need this summer. He's a hungry, upwardly mobile young player with top level experience and resale value; in other words, he is exactly the sort of signing that Jurgen Klopp's success at Anfield has been built on.

Against that backdrop, the fact that he once struggled as a kid farmed out on loan to a struggling Premier League side pales into insignificance.