Dundee United’s ‘mini Messi’ Ryan Gauld has been advised to reject the advances of Europe’s top clubs to stay at Tannadice by SFA performance director Mark Wotte.
Wotte believes Gauld’s talent could be swallowed up by an academy in England or Spain and has urged the youngster to continue his development with his current club – or move to Celtic or Rangers if he feels he has to move on.
He told the Daily Mail: “When the time comes to go down south or to another club, that’s really hard.
“I wouldn’t advise taking a massive step.
“I mean, people are talking about Real Madrid being interested in Ryan Gauld. For me, that is ridiculous.
“Maybe in two or three years’ time. But, if he ends up being part of the academy at Real, he could disappear in the numbers — because they have five, six or seven Ryan Gaulds.
“I would prefer him to stay in Scotland, play his games here, before getting a recognised move to an English club — if that is possible.
“He doesn’t have to leave Scotland to develop. That’s the most important statement I want to make. He doesn’t have to move.
“He can stay with Dundee United and get another 100 games under his belt, he’d still only be 19. Or he gets a move within Scotland, to a bigger club, the obvious being Celtic or Rangers — that could happen in a couple of years. That would also give a development to his career.
“I have mixed thoughts about this. When you go to a top academy down south and train with better players every day, that will obviously develop your skills.
“But to play a mature game in Scotland, play every week in the Scottish Premiership, that will give you another kind of development — dealing with fans, dealing with pressure.
“Ryan is, for us, a great advertisement as a Scottish player with a proper foundation. Good skills, ability, attitude, awareness.
“An athlete? Not yet. But he’s quick enough. And he’s aggressive enough, so he can play the man’s game in the Scottish Premiership.
“Now the next step will be, well, what is your next step? Is he going to England, Europe, staying in Scotland and getting 100 or 150 games under his belt before moving to maybe a bigger club in Scotland?
“Normally that would have happened in the last 20 years — a young boy playing very well with the smaller clubs would get his move to Rangers or Celtic, where there is other pressure, you have to deal with more competition. That’s the next step for him.
“So there’s a lot of hurdles to overcome for him before he’s going to be a really top, top star player. But, of course, it’s looking great.”
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Real Madrid are among the clubs known to have scouted the 17-year-old wonderkid in recent weeks.