Ryan Gauld: Sheffield United could face battle with European giant if they move for midfielder

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Sheffield United must attempt to convince Ryan Gauld to turn his back on a move to one of the most iconic names in European football if they decide to pursue their interest in the Scottish midfielder, with reports in Portugal claiming he now features on Benfica’s wanted list.

Gauld is set to leave Farense this summer after his contract at the Estadio de Sao Luis expired following the club’s relegation from the Primeira Liga.

Despite the Faro-based outfit’s difficulties, Gauld enjoyed an excellent season in front of goal; scoring nine times in 33 appearances.

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The 25-year-old worked under Paul Heckingbottom during a spell on loan with Hibernian, where United’s now caretaker manager spent nine months in charge before taking over the reins of Bramall Lane’s development squad.

With officials in South Yorkshire yet to appoint Chris Wilder’s replacement following his departure in March, Heckingbottom has been heavily involved in drafting plans for next term - when United will look to regain top-flight status at the first attempt following their own demotion.

“It’s a small world now and I would encourage everyone to have a go for the life experience,” Heckingbottom said at the time, reflecting on Gauld’s decision to join Sporting. “They have a life to live and experience and you’d be a better person for it.”

Gauld rose to prominence as a teenager when, after graduating from Dundee United’s youth programme, he completed a £3m transfer to Sporting Lisbon in 2014.

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However, after failing to establish himself with the reigning Portuguese champions, he completed loan spells with Vitoria de Setubal and Aves before moving to Easter Road and then Farense.

Ryan Gauld during his spell on loan with HibernianRyan Gauld during his spell on loan with Hibernian
Ryan Gauld during his spell on loan with Hibernian

Now finally beginning to fulfil the promise that saw him tagged as “Baby Messi” north of the border, Gauld’s ability to both create and convert chances has prompted a number of teams across the globe to approach his representatives.

As well as considering offers from Asia and the MLS, Gauld has now been informed Benfica are considering handing him a second shot at the big time in Portugal while Southampton have also previously been linked.

United are set to bolster their midfield options before the start of the new campaign, with Sander Berge and John Lundstram both destined to leave.