Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara expects to be switching on his TV this autumn to watch Ryan Gauld in action against some of European football’s top talent.
Disappointed as he is at losing the 18-year-old to Sporting Lisbon this week, he wants to see him shine in Portuguese football and beyond and Jackie is convinced the young star will.
“I believe Ryan will be playing first-team football for Sporting now,” he said. “It’s not a development signing for them, they’ve taken him to use him now.
“I’m hopeful we’ll turn on the telly in the next couple of months and see him playing Champions’ League games.
“From our point of view, that would give us a lot of satisfaction. It would also give the younger kids here a goal to aim for and it would be great for all the coaches who have worked with him along his career path.”
Knowing Gauld as he does, Jackie is aware the chance to perform on that kind of stage was the motivation behind the superkid wanting to head for Portugal.
“It was too good a deal for both Ryan and us to turn down. If we had and turned round to the lad and said we rejected it, to deny him such an opportunity would have been wrong.
“It’s a great chance for him and we felt it was the right time for the club to accept this offer.”
He agrees the fact Gauld, at 5,000 a week, is on much less money than he could be earning elsewhere, shows improving as a footballer was the main reason for his desire to go.
“We always knew that with Ryan and he said last year he had the desire to go to Europe, to play abroad.
“He would have got a lot more holding out for a move down to the Premier League or even the Championship in England but it’s not about the money for him.
“It’s about being at the right place for him. He’s gone to a club that has a fantastic reputation for developing and producing talent.
“They’ve two former players (Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo) who’ve gone on to become World Player of the Year. So it doesn’t come much better than that for Ryan to try and follow in their footsteps.”
And he sees the money Sporting were willing to pay as an indication of how good the youth set-up at United is.
By the end of the season the fee could have risen to over 3m and a future sale could see the Tangerines double that income.
“The fact they’ve come in for him and paid so much shows we have a great set-up in terms of young players coming through here.
“It’s not just Ryan who’s been linked and it has been well documented we’ve turned down offers for Andy Robertson in the last few days.
“It’s good to have that kind of attention but, at the same time, we want to keep them as long as possible.”
On Monday United head for Dublin and a six day, two-game stay on the Emerald Isle.
Jackie plans to take 22 players with him and the aim will be to get all of them game time against Athlone Town on Tuesday and Bohemians tomorrow week.