'Mini Messi' Ryan Gauld
You can’t help but feel sorry for Ryan Gauld. At the tender age of just 17, the fresh-faced teenager made a decision players twice his age would think long and hard about.
Swapping Dundee United, the club he joined as a boy eight years earlier, and taking one giant stride into the unknown with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, Gauld did was so few British players have dared to do since the turn of the century – leave his comfort zone and test himself abroad.
However, it’s fair to say that brave risk is yet to reap any rewards. The gifted playmaker, once nicknamed the ‘Mini Messi’, has featured just five times in Sporting’s first team since making the move to Portugal in 2014.
Despite signing a six-year deal at the time, with a buyout clause of £50 million, A Bola claims Sporting will let the 21-year-old leave this summer for just £3 million.
Therefore, you would expect that one of the most exciting players to emerge in Scotland in many a year would not be short of offers. However, Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha has made emphatically clear that Gauld will not be offered a lifeline at Ibrox.
“Ryan Gauld was suggested on loan, but I considered that we should not have more than two loans and in that position we are already covered,” Caixinha told O Jogo.
“Gauld was not a necessity, although I recognised a lot of quality and competence in him. He has a cognitive ability above the Scottish average, thinks about the game in a different way.”
However, you wonder whether this is a missed opportunity for Rangers. After all, Caixinha has already been criticised by some supporters for permitting Barrie McKay to leave this summer for just £2 million, per the Daily Record.
Rangers' Barrie McKay barely featured under Caixinha
The 22-year-old was arguably Rangers most dangerous attacking talent last season and he remains the most valuable asset in the squad.
Letting him leave, then, would leave a creative vacuum in the squad and filling it with another homegrown starlet in Gauld could help win back fans alienated by his treatment of McKay.