Sporting Lisbon have jumped the queue slowly being formed by a number of a number Premier League clubs, and snatched away the player called ‘mini Messi’ in Scotland. The Lisbon club have laid out a fairly modest £3millikon fee to whisk the 18 year-old away to the Estadio Jose Alvalade on a six year contract. With sporting having an established line of stars from iis stable including Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, Gauld’s future is probably in experienced hands.
It’s a deal that looks like a copper-bottomed money spinner for the Portuguese club who have this happy knack of picking up unrefined talent, turning them into international stars, and pocketing the profits to keep the club on the straight and narrow.
Giving a player the tag of being the ‘new…’ or the ‘next…’ is hardly new, but the alliteration offered by the Messi names fits nicely with the ‘mini’ tag. It’s yet to be shown how heavy a burden it may be for the 18 year old Gauld. Already with a nU21 cap to his name, his reputation has grown meteorically north of the border. Sporting are betting that they can continue his education and growth apace.
Gauld was born in Aberdeen, and after joining Brechin City, moved to Dundee United as a 10 year old, making his league debut at the tender age of just 16, netting his first goal for the club some fifteen months or so ago. In 42 games for the Tannadice club, he’s scored ten goals. It has however been Gauld’s ability to dribble with the ball at pace that has drawn comparisons with Barcelona’s star player. A searing change of pace without any loss of control takes Gauld away from defenders coupled with a low centre of gravity reminiscent of the Argentine has drawn many a robust challenge in the physical Scottish leagues. The more technical approach apparent in Portugal may however, offer a more studied opportunity to develop.
It is of course not really apposite to label Gauld with the Messi tag, but Scotland has been crying out for a world class talent for some time now, and the apparent abilities the young Gauld has to deploy may just give a glimpse of something special to come.