Scout report: Ryan Gauld
Gauld has shone for Dundee United this season

Name: Ryan Gauld

Born: December 16th 1995 (18 years old) in Aberdeen

Height: 5ft, 4in

Current team: Dundee United

Position: Midfield

Squad number: 19

Who is he?

When Ryan Gauld made his Dundee United debut at the age of just 16, his obvious talent raised eyebrows among fans all over Scotland.

The pint-sized attacking midfielder started his youth career at his local club Brechin City. However, at the age of ten SPL club United saw his potential and introduced the youngster to their own successful set-up. 

On the final day of the 2011/12 season, Gauld made his Arabs debut as a substitute in a 2-0 victory over Motherwell after six years impressing for the Tannadice side's youth teams. Then-manager Peter Houston praised the youngster following his next appearance against Ross County, saying: "He's a talent. He's one of a conveyor belt of young players that we need to breed and need to bring on."

Despite the rising expectations of management and fans, Gauld continued to be used as a substitute, mainly due to concerns over rough treatment from defenders. However, his full debut finally arrived against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, and celebrated the occasion by scoring his first senior goal in a 1-1 draw. Since then, his stock has soared, with Gauld becoming a key component of United's exciting young side.

Gauld has also been recognised at international level; he has been capped eight times for Scotland's Under-19 side and has two goals to his name, including a stunning costless kick against Iceland in a man of the match performance. In November 2013, Gauld made the step up to the Under-21 squad for the first time.

In the same month, Manchester United manager David Moyes stated that he wanted to "scout" Gauld personally, with a view to potentially signing him either in the January transfer window or at the end of the season. However, within a week the youngster signed a contract extension which will keep him in the City of Discovery until 2017. 

Due to his slight frame and nimble footwork, United fans have already christened Gauld 'Mini Messi'. Although there are similarities between the two in terms of physicality, Gauld's role for United is much more concerned with creating chances for others; playing 'in the hole' behind Nadir Ciftci, Brian Graham or David Goodwillie, Gauld has been directly involved in eleven of his side's goals so far this season, and has combined well with winger Gary Mackay-Steven. 

There is no doubt that Ryan Gauld has an enormous amount of potential; however,  United manager Jackie McNamara and his team of coaches must be careful that they give the diminutive wizard time to develop fully. If Gauld does stay with the Arabs, there is no doubt that he will be a key man in determining what comes of their season, whether that is a top six finish or perhaps even European qualification. 

With a host of Europe's elite clubs rumoured to be keeping tabs on the youngster's progress, and Everton manager Roberto Martinez travelling to look United's draw with Hibernian on Saturday, it seems certain that Gauld will be on his way, at the very latest at the end of next season. One thing is for sure; with Scotland's best talent for many years on their hands, United must not let him go to waste. 

Who is interested?

Manchester United, Everton, Celtic, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Roma

Strengths

Passing, movement, dribbling, set pieces

Weaknesses

Strength, heading

Facts

Gauld has made 27 appearances for Dundee United's first team, scoring six goals.

He has been likened to Celtic's European Cup winner Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone.

His personal Twitter is @ryangauld46.

Overall rating

8/10

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