Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards
Niko Kovac hopes to see Renato Sanches flourish under his leadership at Bayern Munich and believes the youngster's career stalled due to "a social issue" and not "football-specific" matters.
Sanches was an unused substitute for Saturday's 3-1 Bundesliga win over Bayer Leverkusen and could feature against former club Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Portugal international left Benfica as one of the hottest properties in European football two years ago, joining Bayern before starring in his country's triumphant Euro 2016 campaign.
But he failed to make an impression over the course of 17 Bundesliga appearances in 2016-17 before an ill-fated loan switch to Swansea City, which ended with Sanches as a peripheral figure in the club's relegation from the Premier League.
Kovac has regularly spoken of the 21-year-old in glowing terms since being appointed as Jupp Heynckes' successor at the Allianz Arena and feels his talent should not be in doubt.
"I cannot judge the past. I know the facts, but why he came to the problems I cannot say exactly," he told Goal.
"He is European, but comes from another country. Other countries, other customs, other characteristics. This is not just a football-specific, but rather a social issue.
"You have to try to understand other people. You cannot treat a foreigner like a German because he reacts differently to different things. I told Renato that it's not easy to become a Bayern regular. His chance will come.
"He is a young player and does his job really well. Right now, in our personnel situation, the probability is very high that he will play soon.
"He was not dubbed for nothing as one of the world's best of his age. But you have to give people time and not assume that they work immediately.
"The young players only have to process the impressions when they come to a foreign country. It is unjust that foreign players are required to explode immediately."
— renatosanches (@renatosanches35) September 4, 2018
Kovac believes his own experience as a German-born Croatian can help him to relate to players who have struggled in the manner of Sanches.
"I try to empathise with the players and wonder how to handle a case. You can be emotional [angry] sometimes, but you have to be aware that a statement or criticism has an impact," he said.
"As a player and after some time as a coach, I've learned that not all people are the same. When I was a player I used to always want the coach to treat everyone the same. But you can forget that.
"I think it benefits me that I have Croatian roots but grew up in Germany. I have two mentalities inside me and maybe I can think better of one or the other.
"I've learned a lot from the diversity in Frankfurt, the German and foreign players as well. Diversity makes life interesting."