Ryan Gauld leaves Sporting to join Farense
Gauld in action for Sporting. Source: GettyImages.

Ryan Gauld has officially left Sporting Lisbon to join Portuguese LigaPro side Farense on a two-year deal.

The 23-year-old midfielder previously spent time on loan at the Portuguese second tier side. However, he now joins permanently after joining Sporting five years ago. 

There is an option for a third year extension in his contract and it also features a £3.5m release clause. 

Unfulfilled potential

Gauld made his footballing debut for Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership in 2012. 

He was only 16 years of age, however his performances were drawing a lot of interest. Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool were all keen on the youngster and his future looked bright.

His tricky performances wowed the Tannadice crowds and he was shortlisted for the Young Player of the Year award in the 2013-14 season - the season which turned out to be his last with the Arabs.

In the summer of 2014, Gauld joined sporting for a fee in the region of £3m and his contract featured a whopping £60m buy-out clause, which showed how highly the Sporting hierarchy rated him.

However, Gauld never made his mark at the Estádio José Alvalade and he spent most of his time out on loan. 

He had loan spells at Portuguese sides Vitoria de Setubal, CD Aves and Farense before he returned to Scotland to join Hibernian on a 6-month loan deal in January 2019.

It is now clear that Sporting have decided to cut their losses on the Scotsman and allow him to leave permanently in order to develop elsewhere.

What went wrong for Gauld in Lisbon?

When Gauld broke through at Dundee United, he was a tricky attacking midfielder who used his low centre of gravity to effortlessly glide past players.

He had an eye for goal and was always a threat around the box. However, when he made the switch to Portugal he moved deeper and deeper on the pitch and had to learn a new role.

This role involved him having to get involved in physical battles and start attacking moves from deep. 

Gauld is only 5 ft 6 and is incredibly lean so this new physical role didn't seem well suited to him and his natural ability.

The youngster has also been unfortunate with injuries during his time abroad and it has limited his game time significantly. 

Time on his side

It is easy to say that Gauld has not fulfilled his early potential, however it is important to remember that he is still only 23 and has time on his side.

He was forced to deal with a lot of pressure at a very young age. His performances in Tayside led to many fans of the Scottish game pinning their hopes on the youngster's narrow shoulders and in the end it was too much.

A new opportunity at a side where there will be less expectation to succeed and live up to his original hype may be exactly what the playmaker needs.