Renato Sanches
Benfica's Renato Sanches, 18, could spark a bidding war among Europe's top clubs in the summerGetty Images

Real Madrid are interested in signing 18-year-old midfielder Renato Sanches from Benfica in the summer, according to reports. The Portugal U-19 international has been dubbed by some as 'the new Ronaldinho".

Sanches has been earmarked as a potential marquee signing by Real's hierarchy, Spanish daily AS said. Sanches has a contract with Benfica until 2021 and has a release clause of €80m (£62m), according to the paper, but it is thought a transfer fee in region of €60m would convince the Portuguese club to sell the player.

That would eclipse the €55m Zenit St Petersburg paid to Porto for Hulk in 2012 — the biggest ever transfer involving a Portuguese club. However, Real face stiff competition from some of Europe's biggest clubs for Sanches's signature, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United also interested.

Man Utd interest

Sanches made his first-team debut for Benfica in October last year and has since gone on to make 14 league appearances for the Portuguese giants, scoring two goals. The Sun claimed United would be favourites to sign the teenager if they appoint Jose Mourinho as manager, as the duo are represented by the same agent, Jorge Mendes.

Benfica boss Rui Vitoria said earlier this month that he was relaxed about the prospect of Sanches leaving the club in the future. "Renato is mature beyond his age. He is being protected by a group of players who support him and are giving him a lot of help," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

Renato Sanches
Sanches has scored two goals in 14 league appearances for BenficaGetty Images

"This situation is not difficult for us. If things happen, they happen. We all know that's the way it is. There is no point in worrying over things that have yet to happen.

"There is no drama about all this. The team is very stable and that helps dealing with speculation like this."

Real Madrid are four points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, having played a game more than their great rivals and host Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu on 13 February.