Pitchside

British ‘Mini-Messi’ priced at £48m after swapping Dundee for Portugal

Pitchside

Scottish teenager Ryan Gauld has been signed by Sporting Lisbon in a deal that values him at up to an astonishing £47.8 million.

The Portuguese giants confirmed on Wednesday morning they had struck an agreement to sign Dundee United's highly-rated teenager, who earned a global reputation when dazzling footage of his skills went viral on the internet. You can see some of his best moments in the video on this page.

The attacking midfielder, 18, has penned a six-year deal with Marco Silva's side after jetting out to Lisbon for talks on Tuesday.

Sporting have reportedly paid a relatively tiny £3m for Gauld - but they clearly value him well above that, and instantly slapped a €60 million buy-out clause on him. That equates to £47.8m - which, if a club came along to pay it, would make him the most expensive British footballer in history.

Gauld 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 released on the club's website, Sporting confirmed the deal and also announced the huge 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 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 was handed his United debut on the final day of the 2011/12 season with a three-minute run-out against Motherwell at Fir Park.

But it was last season which saw him announce himself in real style as he formed part of an exciting midfield line-up which helped Jackie McNamara's side to 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 to St Johnstone at Celtic Park but finished the campaign with eight goals from 38 appearances.

It was reported last year that Italian giants Roma were monitoring Gauld's progress, while Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid have also sent scouts to see him play.

But Tannadice boss McNamara admitted the Taysiders could not stand in his way after Sporting came calling.

Speaking on Tuesday night, he told Sky Sports News: "Selfishly we would like to keep Ryan as long as possible but realistically we knew at one point he would be leaving to go on to bigger and better things.

"There has been a number of clubs interested I believe and that is testament to the ability that Ryan has got. Naturally we would like to have him here a lot longer."

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Ryan Gauld

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