Eyebrows were raised when Ryan Gauld sealed his move to Sporting Lisbon from Dundee United in 2014, with the club putting a €60 million buy-out clause in his six-year contract (Sporting official).
Things haven’t gone totally to plan for the midfielder since making that move, with the player heading out a number of times on loan to the likes of Vitoria de Setubal, Aves, Farense and Hibs for half a season in 2018/19.
He only made five appearances for Sporting’s first-team, spending most of his time with the B side.
Last summer, he joined former loan club Farense on a permanent basis, and that appears to have been the catalyst for change for Gauld, who is now experiencing a new lease of life with the Portuguese second division side.
The star, now 24, is enjoying his best-ever season as a professional, scoring nine goals so far for the title-chasers, including a hat-trick against Academico Viseu last month – the first of his career.
Gauld’s time abroad has largely been a frustration but 2019/20 has seen him finally harness his abilities, and he even wore the captain’s armband against Estoril last month, suggesting he has also developed some leadership qualities.
Always had bags of ability
Gauld came close to his first senior Scotland cap back in 2014 when he was called up for Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Georgia and Poland. He never played, but perhaps he’s closer than ever before to fulfilling the potential first found at Dundee United.
A spell at Hibs was the last time Gauld stepped foot in SPFL waters. It was a mixed spell where he never got to fully demonstrate his potential. In flashes though, you could tell the midfielder was a special talent.
He is bang in form right now and it’s great to see the Dundee United academy product finally hitting a good run of games.