DUNDEE United chairman Stephen Thompson last night hailed Ryan Gauld’s ground-breaking transfer to Sporting Lisbon.
Thompson helped pull off the £3 million deal which takes 18-year-old Gauld to the Portuguese outfit and believes it is a masterstroke for the Tayside club.
Thompson said: “This puts United on the map. How many times do you see a young, home-grown Scottish player get a transfer like this? Not very often. It’s big news over in Portugal and in England. I’ve been taking phone calls all day.
“In terms of marketing ourselves as a place where talent is developed and then sold on, this deal is very good for the club. It is also very good for the other young players here. They couldn’t get any better encouragement than what has happened to Ryan. If he can do it, they’ll want to.”
Thompson maintains it was a deal which the club simply couldn’t turn down.
He said: “This has been a very hard deal to close. It wasn’t until about 2am that the contract got signed and I think even then there were a couple of things to do with his medical that needed to be done. There has been a lot of work put into this.
“As a fan I don’t want to see a player like Ryan leave, but this was a great move for him and us.
“A lot of work has been put in to developing the likes of Ryan and getting him and others on long-term contracts so we can get a decent transfer fee like this one.
“It’s about the business side of things as much as the football side. But we will only sell players if the price is right.”
Gauld’s money-spinning transfer will strengthen manager Jackie McNamara’s arm when it comes to bringing more new faces to the club this summer. Thompson said: “All we’ve been talking about [with Jackie] over the last few days has been Ryan. Now we can speak about players we’re looking to bring in.
“We’ve already made some signings. Blair Spittal and Charlie Telfer are two young players – without putting pressure on them – who we are really excited about. The Gauld money doesn’t change Jackie’s budget dramatically.
“We were backing him in the transfer market before, and we’ll still be backing him. We want to see a successful Dundee United on the pitch next season, and nothing has changed in that regard.”
Sporting Lisbon immediately placed a £48m price-tag on Gauld after agreeing the deal. He has penned a six-year deal after jetting out to Lisbon for talks on Tuesday and can now look forward to Champions League football after the 18-times Portuguese champions finished second in the Primeira Liga to qualify straight into the group stages.
In a statement, Sporting confirmed the deal and also announced they had inserted the huge €60million (£48m) release clause into the Scotland Under-21 cap’s deal. It said: “Sporting Clube de Portugal and Dundee United FC reached an agreement for the player Ryan Gauld to represent Sporting in the next six seasons. A termination clause in the amount of 60 million euros was set.”
United also released a brief statement announcing the sale of a player dubbed “Mini Messi” in tribute to his mesmerising dribbling skills.
It said: “Subject to the usual formalities, Dundee United confirm the transfer of Ryan Gauld to Sporting Lisbon, for an undisclosed fee, was completed last night. Everyone at the club wishes Ryan sincere best wishes in his future career.”
Gauld made his United debut on the final day of the 2011-12 season with a three-minute run-out against Motherwell at Fir Park. But last season he announced himself in real style as part of an exciting midfield line-up which helped McNamara’s side reach the William Hill Scottish Cup final.
The PFA Scotland young player of the year award nominee was left out of the starting line-up in the 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone at Celtic Park but finished the campaign with eight goals from 38 appearances.
How other Scots compare to Sporting Lisbon’s £48 million valuation of teenager Ryan Gauld.
Steven Fletcher £12m (Wolves to Sunderland)
Alan Hutton £9m (Rangers to Tottenham)
Craig Gordon £9m (Hearts to Sunderland)
Jordan Rhodes £8m (Huddersfield to Blackburn)
Duncan Ferguson £8m (Everton to Newcastle).