clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Manchester United January transfer targets: Ryan Gauld bid imminent?

Join in in the Busby Babe singalong as we preview twelve targets for Manchester United to target in January.

Alex Livesey

On the first day of the January transfer window, my true love gave to me...

A Dundee United playmaker.

Ryan Gauld is probably the most prodigious talent in Scotland right now, and while that may appear to be faint praise, there's a lot of justified hype taking place over the Dundee United midfielder. Breaking into the first team at a ridiculously young age, he's already one of the best players in the league and looks like he could be truly special.

He's a tiny wee thing, but makes up for it as you might expect with some remarkable touch, vision, and skill. Manchester United's Jimmy Lumsden has been up to watch him several times, but so have scouts from Liverpool and Arsenal - and even Real Madrid are rumoured to be interested.

Youtube highlights videos are obviously a bad way to judge a player, but this video is well worth your time: his complete highlights in one game, a very recent one against Partick Thistle, where he helps to single-handedly demolish the Glaswegians, bagging all four assists for his side.

In order to gain a second opinion, I spoke to fellow Scot Graham Ruthven, who works for STV and a few other places, and who has been keeping tabs on Gauld of late.

Callum Hamilton: Gauld really seems to have something special about him partly due to the type of player he is - he recalls the 'dog chasing a bit of silver paper in the wind' simile used by Ferguson to describe Giggs. But Scotland's had a lot of talent praised at that level that's never matured - do you think Gauld is different?

Graham Ruthven: Of course it's impossible to know for certain but Gauld has an innate, natural talent I haven't seen in a Scottish player in my lifetime. It's something of a myth that Scotland doesn't produce ball-players anymore, but when it does (Shaun Maloney, Gary Mackay-Steven, Barry Bannan) they tend to be too flaky to make it at the top level, lacking the necessary mindset. That's what is most impressive about Gauld. He has handled all this hype (which has been going on for longer than just a few months in Scotland) with admirable resolve and is actually getting better with each game. It suggests he might have the mentality to deal with the pressure of playing for a club like Manchester United.

As for playing style, the Lionel Messi comparisons are just a bit of fun but in terms of technique there is a comparison to be made. Just like the little Argentinean, Gauld is a master of the feint, turn on a six-pence shoulder-drop, possessing a deceptive turn of pace and acceleration that leaves opponents for dead when he turns on the after burners.

CH: Dundee United are a team with quite a lot of skill and flair in the team that play attacking football - what position and role does he usually play within that side?

GR: He fits naturally into this Dundee United side as a number 10. Having said that Jackie McNamara has given Gauld something of a free role as he has continued to impress this season, interchanging with Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong as part of an attacking three behind the central striker. Gauld is comfortable starting out wide and drifting into the centre, but is also adept at gathering the ball in deep positions and driving at the opposition defence.

CH: I think it's safe to say that Gauld isn't exactly ready for the United first team right now, so perhaps a loan back to the end of the season is likely for whoever signs him, but how quickly do you think he could make the step up?

GR: He has a natural talent that suggests he could make the step up to Premier League level quicker than expected. A year ago Gauld was playing for Dundee United's Under 16s, now some say he's the best player in the Scottish Premiership. Considering his rapid rise through the ranks to this point I wouldn't put anything past him.

So, there you have it. The question is: will United make a bid, and is he worth it? Personally, I think the rumoured £5m asking price is well worth the gamble, and Moyes does have a slightly better track record of turning north of the border for transfers than Ferguson in recent years: As well as taking advantage of Rangers' implosion to sign Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith (quiet at the back) he also swooped early to buy the young Matthew Kennedy.

It's not going to be the answer to our problems this year, but nonetheless it's good to know we are still building for the future and keeping an eye on promising targets.