So it looks as though Dundee United starlet Ryan Gauld is set to complete a move to Sporting Lisbon for a fee of around £3m with the potential for more in add-ons.
The news has captured the imagination of Scottish Football fans across social media, and as you might expect, the reaction has been interesting and diverse.
While most observers seem to agree that it’s a good move for both the player and the club, there are some interesting viewpoints out there.
One United fan suggested that we shouldn’t sell him, but instead loan him out to a lower division side in Scotland to get first team experience.
Plenty of Aberdeen fans have amusingly suggested that if Gauld is worth £3m then Peter Pawlett must be worth at least £5m. I somehow don’t think a bid of that much is forthcoming.
Then you’ve got Dundee fans saying he’s rubbish, that they can’t understand why he’s going for so much and – knowing as they do more about United’s financial security than Stephen Thompson himself – that all the money would go to servicing debt.
And one punter – whose allegiances remain a mystery – suggested that he felt Gauld would be making a massive mistake going to Portugal ahead of “The Premier League” (that could either be England, from where no bids have been received, or Scotland where he currently plays) and that he was “throwing his career away”.
Of course, a lot of that is nonsense. A player is worth either what a club is willing to pay for him or the opportunity cost of that player leaving the club. That’s it; there’s no magic formula to it.
United and Sporting have agreed a deal, and for me it’s not only a terrific piece of business for both clubs in terms of value, but it’s also fantastic for the player himself and for Dundee United’s reputation.
Some Arabs remain unconvinced, as they think if we held onto him for another season, we could get higher offers.
I would ask those fans to consider this…
As good as he is, Ryan Gauld has had a poor run of form since January. There have been a number of theories put forward for why that is, including his obvious growth spurt, his turning 18 and discovering alcohol (which I really hope isn’t true), overconfidence or jadedness. I’d say mostly his form dipped because teams seemed to set out to stop him playing. They bullied him and marked him out of games. The sort of performances we saw from Gauld in the run up to Christmas are not 100% likely to happen again because of that.
If I was Gauld – who has said in the past that he sees his future on the continent rather than in the UK – I’d be thinking “If I’m going to reach my potential, I need to play in a league where I’ll have more time and space on the ball and won’t be an instant target for other clubs”.
Meanwhile, if I was Stephen Thompson, I’d be thinking “I know this guy is a huge prospect, but if he plays the whole of next season the way he played the latter half of last season, he won’t even attract bids of £500k let alone £5m”
So the time is right for a move.
Like I say above, it’s great for United’s reputation too. The club sells itself as a place where players can learn their craft, play in the first team and then move on to a higher level. Say United decided to reject the bid; how bad would that look to Gauld and any other player thinking of moving to Tannadice?
To lose a player of Gauld’s ability will be sad for the fans, but there are plenty more fish in the sea. We’ve still got a front four including Nadir Ciftci, GMS, Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Dow, and coming up to challenge them are the likes of Charlie Telfer, Blair Spittal, Aidan Connolly, Scott Smith and Scott Fraser, so the future is still bright as far as I’m concerned.
I wish Ryan Gauld all the best, and hope for himself, the Scottish National team and Scottish Football – for if his move is a success it might encourage more teams to spend big bucks on our players – that he fulfils his undoubted potential. He’s got a great chance to do it, and I hope he grabs it with both hands.