Renato Sanches will have hoped for less publicity heading into one of the most important games of his career.
The Portugal midfielder, who faces Wales in the Euro 2016 semi-finals on Wednesday night, finds himself at the centre of claims suggesting he is 23 or 24-years-old, not 18.
Said remarks were made by French coach Guy Roux, who questioned the legitimacy of his birth certificate given his date of birth was declared five years after he was born.
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Sanches has since come out and denied such speculation yet doubt remains of whether he is, in fact, the age he claims.
Sporting Lisbon now find themselves involved in the debate after Goal journalist Miles Chambers' article pinned the blame on club president Bruno de Carvalho and likened Sanches' age row to racism.
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Understandably, the Portuguese outfit have hit back with a scathing response.
In an official statement, per 101 Great Goals, they said: "Today, everyone in Portugal, and above all those at Sporting, were surprised by an absolutely pathetic article on alleged comments made by the Sporting president about the age of Renato Sanches.
"Several opinions questioned his honour and character and these will quite rightly be studied by the club's legal team.
"The Sporting president has said several times that he didn't like to see a player's age questioned by many journalists and pundits, hence why Benfica should have ended speculation by producing his birth certificate, something the club ultimately never did.
"However, this is not an innocent article, neither in its timing nor in terms of its author.
"Regarding its timing, it appeared shortly after former French coach Guy Roux stated publicly that Renato Sanches is 23-24-years-old. We quote it below:
"'This week the news once again hit the headlines when former Auxerre coach Guy Roux told a Romanian news outlet: 'Sanches said that he is 18-years-old but I believe we have to look at his past. His date of birth was declared years after he was born so his registered date is not correct. I can assure you that he is 23 or 24'.'
"In terms of the author, you only need to search for his name to learn that this "journalist" at Goal.com closely follows Benfica. He has written about them on numerous occasions.
"Yet while a friend in need is a friend indeed, lies and libel have no place in journalism nor are acceptable in a society like the one we live in.
"Miles Chambers wanted to secure his 15 minutes of fame via the president of Sporting. He will have that in several places we believe they will make him rue ever thinking this was the way to show himself a "friend" to someone."
Sporting conclude their statement by wishing Sanches the best of luck heading into Portugal's clash against Wales.
"Sporting Clube de Portugal and their president want another win for Portugal to reach the final we're aiming for. May Renato Sanches score a lot more goals in his run that we hope ends in Portugal being crowned European champions."
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