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Has Anyone Seen Sanches? Renato’s Injury Riddles Continue to Hurt Roma

Will Sanches ever exorcise his injury demons? If Roma has a chance of competing for anything this season, they'll need their Portuguese midfielder available.

AS Roma v Empoli FC - Serie A TIM Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images

It's like putting your hand in warm water and screaming it hurts like hell. Or sending a risque picture to your ex while you're in a relationship and being surprised your current girlfriend leaves you, or driving to the Rocky Mountains in your underwear and being angry because you get a cold. Dude, you know what you got yourself into. Forewarned is forearmed.

In Roma's case, they brought in a bunch of fragile players like Paulo Dybala, Diego Llorente, Chris Smalling, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Renato Sanches and still complain about a decimated squad, a tough schedule, lengthy rehabs, etc. We all know the club has a history of (grave) injuries and medical staff with questionable methods and results. And let's not talk about the ancient curse below the grounds of Trigoria.

Now, I've seen many players seemingly made of glass pass by in Rome. Alberto Aquilani comes to mind. But the case of Renato Sanches—who has only played 98 minutes of football for Roma—boggles my mind. After a half-hour debut against Salernitana, Sanches was hurt almost immediately and missed the club's next two matches against Milan and Verona.

Sanches recovered to play one half of Roma's 7-0 win over Empoli before being subbed out by Mourinho as a precaution, only to be injured again after 28 minutes vs Sheriff in the very next game. And it's not like Roma blew up Sanches legs like he was Rick Karsdorp or Tammy Abraham, guys that had to play nearly every single game. No, they were already treating Sanches with silk white gloves.

If Sanches, a professional football player, isn't able to play two halves in two consecutive games, I don't know what else to do. I'm sure the poor man is frustrated as well. Again, Renato has played 98 minutes out of a possible 1170, costing the club more than 520,000 euros per hour. Hey, at least he scored a nice goal during those minutes.

However, losing Sanches doesn't only hurt Roma financially—his presence is sorely missed on the pitch. The Giallorossi could have used his strength, passing, and intensity against Inter, Milan, or Verona. With Cristante helping out in defense, we desperately needed Sanches in midfield alongside Paredes, Aouar, and Bove. A fit Sanches could have meant 3-4 points more for Roma.

Luckily, there's also a bit of positive news. Sanches seems close to his return and could be called up for the Lecce game this weekend. Starting on the bench, but that's already a big step for Sanches, and anything is better than the stands these days. Hopefully, we won't even need Sanches vs Lecce, as the players currently at Mou's disposal should be able to keep the three points at home with ease.

Next up is Slavia away. Risky, but depending on the scoreline, I reckon he could play 25-30 minutes in the second half to regain fitness and confidence. Roma's comfortably 1st in their EL group, so there is no pressure there.

Speaking of pressure. After Lecce in Serie A, we have the derby on November 12 against Lazio, which is always a nervous and tight affair. Should we risk throwing Renato to the wolves in such a tricky fixture? Right before the international break? It could be an option to keep Sanches on the bench until after the break to be really sure about his fitness. But why the hell are we paying his salary then if we are too afraid to use him? After all, he can also get injured in training. Right, Wijnaldum?

Sadly, I predict these same old troubles for the rest of the campaign. Renato is back, plays a few minutes, gets injured again, and needs more time than planned to make his comeback, rinse and repeat. Then, suddenly, it's May 2024, and Roma needs to decide what to do with his loan. Renato would need to play 60% of Roma's matches to make the purchase mandatory, but the chances I win the lottery and marry Jennifer Lawrence on the same day are bigger.

I guess all we can do is at least enjoy those rare Sanches moments like Empoli and, in June, wish him (and his new club) good luck for the future.