FIFA World Cup 2018: Top 5 players to miss out in Portugal's 23-man squad
The Selecao may not boast world-beaters, but there's certainly competition for places and these 5 are unlucky to miss out on one
Thanks to their remarkable (and highly improbable) Euro 2016 triumph, Portugal enter the Russian showpiece under greater scrutiny. There'll be more expectations about this side than ever and they look set to get a baptism of fire in the first match against Iberian neighbours, Spain.
The Selecao, despite boasting some of the footballing greats such as Eusebio, Deco, Pauleta and Luis Figo in the past, haven't had much success at the World Cup. Their best finish was a bronze medal in 1966. However, this current squad looks competitive enough to put up a challenge.
The 23-man squad named by manager Fernando Santos has the necessary talent and skill for that but has taken the brave decision to drop a few big names.
Here are 5 top Portuguese stars who'll miss the flight to Russia:
#5 Renato Sanches (on-loan at Swansea City)
From being touted to be the next big thing of Portugal, to being relegated into the second division of English league, the decline of Renato Sanches has been dramatic. His impressive showings with Benfica earned him a place in the Euro 2016 squad, and he took his chances with aplomb.
At 18 then, he not only became the youngest scorer of the tournament but was also bestowed with the 'Young Player of the Tournament' award before collecting the Golden Boy award. Bayern Munich signed him with great anticipation and the stage was set for Sanches to take the world by storm.
Except, it triggered a slump. Sanches couldn't break into a star-studded Bayern squad and was loaned out to Swansea City, where he hit new lows. The Welsh side was eventually relegated and the 20-year old couldn't inspire anything in 12 appearances he managed. However, he missed as many as 25 games with thigh and hamstring issues that compounded his misery.
The only positive here is he's only 20 and can expect plenty of opportunities in future. But for that, Sanches has to rebuild from now.