Cape Town - Sporting Lisbon have snatched up “Baby Messi” for an undisclosed fee from Scotland League side Dundee United.
Nicknamed “Baby-Messi” by his United teammates, Ryan Gauld is a 5ft 6in 18 year old who began his career at Brechin City in 2003 before joining United in 2006 as a 10 year old.
At 16 years old he made his league debut against Motherwell on the final day which United won 2-0 in the 2011-2012 season.
Last term he made 38 appearances in all competitions for the side and manager Jackie McNamara told the BBC in December he expected Gauld to go on to become a “British great”.
“He’s going to be a massive star in our national team, there’s no doubt about that. For me, Ryan, you look at him and he’s still like a wee boy, his size there, but he flies into tackles, he goes for headers, and he’s only going to get stronger and quicker.
“Everybody can see the talent the boy has. For me, he’s one of these boys who will always strive to be better. His vision, his ability is just fantastic. Upstairs, his football brain is way beyond his years, way beyond anything I’ve seen.”
The surprising factor is that no English Premier League teams have tried to snatch up the wonder kid but Gauld, a former Dundee United ball-boy, feels that a move abroad might suit his style and attributes better than joining a major club in England.
“When I’ve been growing up, I watched the Spanish leagues and prefer the style of that. Getting the ball down and being patient with the build-up play. In England, it’s maybe more direct. If you are a winger you are expected to take on a full-back and get a cross in. If it’s abroad, you can turn out, keep the ball and just keep the attack going,” reports The Guardian.
“Abroad you see more players who are smaller in stature. In England, it’s more athletes. Me being a smaller guy, I need to think about what’s best for me and what’s best around me and I think being abroad is the best culture of football for me.”
And if any clubs do come sniffing around Sporting Lisbon they will have to make sure that they are willing to meet his €60m buy-out clause.Here is a video of "Baby-Messi" in action: