Portuguese outlet O Jogo (h/t ESPN FC) reported on Sunday that United are in "advanced talks" with Benfica. Darren Lewis of the Mirror added the Red Devils are considering a £22 million move as "it is believed a deal could be struck for him for less than half" his £60 million release clause.
However, O Jogo (h/t the Daily Star) also claim in their report the Gunners are monitoring the youngster and had Luis Boa Morte scouting Sanches on Sunday.
Indeed, Portuguese football expert Jan Hagen noted Boa Morte has been watching Benfica on Arsenal's behalf earlier in January:
Arsenal were the only club to scout Benfica's 1-0 win vs Oriental yesterday. Luís Boa Morte present for the Gunners. pic.twitter.com/n4Ez5ishqd— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 20, 2016
The 18-year-old has been something of a revelation since being promoted from Benfica B to the senior side earlier in the season.
Hagen has certainly been impressed by the midfielder, who has seen his impressive form recognised in Portugal:
Renato Sanches has really made a difference since forcing his way into Benfica's line-up. His potential is extreme.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 2, 2016
Official: Renato Sanches has been voted Young Player of the Month for December ahead of Rúben Neves & André Moreira. pic.twitter.com/kp0FdidV3e— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) January 17, 2016
The talented prospect—who, as Lewis notes, can also play out wide—possesses a goal threat from distance and looks to get forward whenever he's on the ball, as the following video demonstrates:
Do United really need Sanches right now?
However, neither United nor Arsenal are in desperate need to reinforce their options in central midfield.
The Red Devils could use more width and have a track record of splashing the cash on young, raw talent—Anthony Martial, for example—but it seems unlikely they'd part with such a hefty fee at this time for a predominantly central player they don't especially need.
Further, Sanches is earning valuable game time in Portugal—something he's unlikely to get at Old Trafford or the Emirates Stadium this season—so he may well prefer to remain there for the time being.
In other news, the club are reportedly "set to listen" to a surprise offer from Barcelona for Juan Mata, according to Sam Morgan of the Sun, with Spanish outlet Don Balon (h/t Morgan) adding that the Spaniard would be open to returning to La Liga.
Though Mata hasn't always shown his best at Old Trafford, the Red Devils aren't likely to part with one of their most creative and technically gifted players in the middle of the season, let alone this late in the transfer window.