When Ryan Gauld made his rather unusual move to Portugal’s Sporting last summer, many in Britain raised their eyebrows, probably wondering as to why a player with such talent would not opt to play in the English Premier League, but instead decide to join one of Europe’s lesser football leagues. Having racked up 50 senior appearances for Scotland’s Dundee United by age 18, Gauld’s career had similarities to that of other youth prodigies. In this sense, one would have expected a move across the border to join up with the likes of Arsenal or Manchester United.
Surprisingly mature for his age though, Gauld was brave enough to turn down any potential big-money move to the Premier League, simply based on his positive image of Sporting being a club that develops young talent well. Indeed, Sporting have produced some major football talent such as Luis Figo or Cristiano Ronaldo, and there is nothing that does not say that the club cannot produce more of the above in the near future. From Gauld’s viewpoint, Portuguese football is less physical than the British equivalent and there is more focus on technical development. As such, playing at an arguably lower level than that of the Premier League might provide the young Scotsman with enough playing time with less focus on physical skill.
Sporting felt similarly excited about the addition of Ryan Gauld and slapped a €60 million buy-out clause on him. In other words, once Gauld starts racking up appearances, assists and goals, he will not leave the club on the cheap. Nevertheless, the clause should simply be regarded as symbolic, as a statement of intent. In other words, the Portuguese club believe in Gauld’s talent, although nobody is certain as to how the youngster will develop.
Ryan Gauld has often been referred to as mini-Messi, partially due to his size, but also based on his dribbling skills and his high pace with the ball on his foot. Without a doubt, he is an interesting prospect, to say the least, but many have failed at their careers’ early stages, so perseverance will play an important part in the player’s development. This season, he was primarily used in Sporting’s second team, scoring three goals in 26 games. Gauld also made a total of five appearances in the first team, scoring two goals in the process. Although some may regard his first year as slightly underwhelming, Gauld himself feels as though, he is in the right place, which ultimately gives them the patience he will need to succeed.
We believe that Ryan Gauld made an incredibly brave decision, when he decided to move to Portugal last year. In this context, he will go through changes at a young age and, if he can adapt to these changes, he will be a great success. Gauld chose the rather hard option, but might eventually benefit from this. In any case, it will be intriguing to watch this young man’s career development.