Who is Ryan Gauld? Everything you need to know about Sporting Lisbon's young Scot

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Sporting Lisbon have confirmed

have paid £3million for one of the hottest properties in Scottish football, and has put pen to paper on a six-year deal at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

It means that the one-cap Scotland under-21 international will find himself plying his trade in the Champions League next season, after the Lions finished second in Portugal’s top-flight last term.

But what exactly do we know about the young whizzkid, nicknamed by some as "mini Messi".

Here’s the full lowdown:

Background

Born in Aberdeen in December 1995, Gauld began as a youngster with Brechin City in 2003, before joining Dundee United’s youth set-up in 2006 as a 10-year-old.

He made his league debut for the senior team in 2012 as a 16-year-old, appearing against Motherwell on the final day of the 2011-12 season in a 2-0 win.

The following season he made 10 SPL appearances for the Tangerines, scoring his first senior goal in April 2013 against St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Enhanced reputation

Last term he made 38 appearances in all competitions for the side, now under the leadership of Jackie McNamara.

A side based around its young players made its way to the Scottish Cup final, with Gauld playing a starring role in the semi-final win over Rangers at Ibrox. Gauld played the final 26 minutes at Hampden Park, but Dundee were beaten 2-0 by St. Johnstone.

His performances during the course of the season saw him shortlisted for the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award – won by his teammate Andrew Robertson.

Strengths

Dribbling. The diminutive winger has quick feet and knows how to use them, and last season added end product to his game, scoring eight goals in 38 games.

Paired with his ability to beat a man is a deceptive turn of pace that has burned off more than its fair share of SPL defenders; he’s not Gareth Bale, powering past people on 50-yard blitzes, but in tight areas he’s sharp and bright and over 15-20 yards gets away from opponents.

At a club that developed Luis Figo, Ricardo Quaresma and Cristiano Ronaldo, it bodes well.

Weaknesses

His low centre of gravity and sharp change of direction allows Gauld to ease away from challenges and opponents. However, his slight frame – he stands at just 5’6" and weighs little more than a biscuit –  means that he isn’t a force aerially, while teams can look to physically overpower him.

Gauld has come in for some rough treatment in Scottish football as opponents began to pinpoint his natural ability. In the more technical Liga Sagres, he may see less physical attention, which will likely work to his benefit.

Mini Messi

Dubbed the "mini Messi" or "baby Messi", Gauld is even shorter than the Argentine superstar (a whole two inches in fact).

And while comparisons between the young Scot and winner are something of a stretch, there is some merit too them.

Rex

Like the young Messi, Gauld has a happy knack of drifting into channels, facing opponents and flicking to his left, easing away from his man with a neat turn of acceleration.

However, he needs to add on some muscle to his slender frame to be able to take the kind of knocks that the Argentine skipper does. Oh, and he’ll need to be more decisive at higher levels, if he’s to add any kind of gravitas to the claims.

Brits abroad

Gauld won’t be the only young British player on the Sporting staff next season.

England under-21 international Eric Dier – who spent six months on loan at Everton in 2011 – is also there.

has been splitting duties between the Sporting B and first team in the last two years, and has 30 first-team appearances under his belt during the last two seasons.

He’ll be looking to play a more significant part during the coming campaign.

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Ander Herrera's arrival at Manchester United welcomed by under-pressure Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick has welcomed Ander Herrera’s signing – even though could take his place.

Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and he is expected to anchor the midfield.

Carrick remembers him from when United played Athletic in the Europa League two seasons ago and says he is a great addition to their squad.

"I have played against him and he is a terrific player," said

"The more quality we have, the better, and he is certainly right up there. So I am sure he is looking forward to getting started and getting the first game under his belt and fitting in.

"We will certainly make him feel as welcome as we can."

have and Carrick is confident can restore their fortunes after last season’s woeful campaign.

"I’m looking forward to working with him," he told Sky Sports News. "I’m looking forward to meeting him and getting cracking really.

"Looking back, it was a disappointing campaign. But we have got to learn from it – you never stop learning – and take what we can.

"We have still certainly got enough quality in the squad anyway regardless of who is coming in this summer to be up there challenging again."

Carrick claims United will cope with the loss of former skippers and defensive linchpins Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

"They are two huge players, huge characters and true legends at the club and rightly so," he said.

"Yes, they will be missed for what they bring, but at the same time it’s a chance for other people to step in and we have certainly got the talent to do that."

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Vote now for the winner of our Buildbase 20000 pound sports club makeover competition

jmage on flickr

We’ve had an incredible response to our Buildbase club makeover competition.

Sports clubs up and down the country have sent in some fantastic entries detailing the incredible work they do in their local communities – and the work that needs doing to bring their crumbling facilities up to date.

Thousands of you have helped show your support for your local clubs.

We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to enter the competition and vote for their local club, but now the time has come for us to announce the finalists…

The judges have deliberated long and hard and narrowed the long list of entires down to a shortlist of just 10 sports clubs who are in with a shout of landing the £20,000 makeover prize.

Now it’s over to you to decide which club that will be…

All you have to do is take a look at the shortlisted entries below and vote for your favourite on the voting form underneath.

We’ve added in some of their own words about why their club should win to help you make your decision.

Be quick though, voting closes on the 14 July!

Blackheath Wanderers FC, South London

"Our club prides itself on being a friendly community base catering for under 7s and under 21s cricket, netball and tennis.

"We have great kids and coaches here but despite our volunteers’ best efforts, our clubhouse is in disrepair with electrics shot to pieces, a leaky roof and a mass of unfriendly Ivy taking over the side of the building.

"The front door doesn’t shut properly and we worry for the safety of anything we store inside.

"Our kids and coaches deserve so much more and we’d love to give them a club they can be proud of."

Blundellsands Lawn Tennis Club, Merseyside 

"We are a volunteer-led club with a vision of making tennis more accessible for all.

"Since Andy Murray lifted the Men’s Singles trophy at Wimbledon, the profile of tennis has raised rapidly.

"We want to encourage young tennis players to follow in Andy’s footsteps and go for their dreams.

"Unfortunately funds at the club are very limited and we don’t have the means to develop the facilities or maintain our current ones which need repairing.

"We want to provide better disabled facilities to encourage inclusion for all.

"Winning the makeover would turn our club around and enable us to become a top sporting club for everyone to use."

Easington Colliery AFC, County Durham 

“We had our centenary year last season, but sadly our boiler packed up leaving us with no hot water.

"We have worked really hard over the last 4 years building our junior sides up alongside our adult team and now have 12 junior teams.

"This help would enable us to maximise the usage of the club whilst also helping us to secure the future expansion of the club and new teams.”

Eckington Cricket Club, Derbyshire

 

"We are a small club with a big membership – we have a wooden hut that is need of repair and refurbishment to bring it up to a decent standard.

"We have five junior teams ranging from under 9’s to under 17’s and five senior teams that have a lot of talented juniors in.

"We recently had an electrical fire after a rat bit through the wires of the roof, rear window and internal wall in the kitchen.

"A makeover would really help and give us a clubhouse to be proud of."

Giffnock North Amateur Athletic Club, Glasgow

 

"The club was built in 1972 and has never been upgraded due to financial constraints.

"We have 600 members of various sections, mainly in the Amateur Football and athletics sections.

"The club continually runs at a loss, but survives due to the hard work of the committee and section chairmen who have to ask the players to pay us to play for Giffnock North."

Hertford Town FC, Hertfordshire

"We have a small committee of hard-working volunteers who have done their best in a tough year dealing with a flooded pitch/clubhouse/changing rooms and multiple roof repairs so that we can get games on for the senior club, youth teams and girls teams.

"We need the cash to help rebuild our club house and replace equipment and repair walls damaged by the flood.

"We are committed to improving the facilities so that we can get more games played on the pitch next season – plus, we are introducing a new U21 team and a second ladies team."

Radstock Town FC, Somerset

 

“The club has been part of the local community for 119 years and has served as a hub for football, indoor sports, social societies and as a meeting place throughout that time.

"Being in an area of serious deprivation this facility genuinely makes a difference to the area, but without urgent and effective long term repairs it will not be able to continue offering the opportunities for sport and social contact that it currently does.

"The skills to deliver the work exist in the club, what is needed is the money for materials."

Shepshed Dynamo FC, Leicestershire 

"Our club is run by a group of volunteers that even during the close season turn up every Tuesday and Saturday to carry out maintenance works.

"Last year we carried out a full makeover on our main clubhouse area, installing a new bar, and refurbishing the walls, and new carpet.

"Our funds are limited so were unable to get the toilets and changing rooms completed.

"Transforming our changing rooms would be fantastic for our team, but would also be another job that can be ticked off the list for the volunteers."

Sleaford Gymnastics Club, Lincolnshire

"Our volunteer-led club has been running for almost 18 years in our current small premises.

"We have been desperately trying to raise enough money to improve our facility by having the walls insulated, improving the changing rooms and toilets, adding a disabled toilet and generally getting the premises updated.

"It would be an enormous impact on a small but thriving club which takes great pride in providing a happy and safe (even though currently dated) environment."

Wick FC, South Gloucestershire

 

”This committee has overseen the development and upkeep of the Sports Ground Clubhouse for over fifty years, and in that time has operated on a shoestring budget, with most improvement work being undertaken on a voluntary basis by sports ground members and friends.

"The fabric of the buildings has deteriorated over the last fifty years to the point where it is both unpleasant and uninviting, especially during the winter months when it is cold and damp.”

VOTE HERE

Buildbase is one of the UK’s fastest growing builders’ merchants. They pride themselves on understanding the needs of the trade professional and to meeting those demands with high-quality products, competitive pricing and reliable delivery.

 

Diego Costa at Chelsea: How the Spaniard will fit into Jose Mourinho's masterplan – Jack Lang

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Chelsea have announced the signing of Spanish striker Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid for £32million. Jack Lang analyses how Diego Costa could fit in at the club, and turn them from also-rans to title favourites…

Jose Mourinho is nothing if not a careful cultivator of his own public image. Between the brash press conferences and the touchline theatrics, has almost unrivalled mastery of the narrative that accompanies his career. Even when Mourinho gouges an opposition coach’s eye, you sense that – even if only on some oblique, subconscious level – he is in command.

It was odd, then, when Mourinho . “I have a team but no striker,” he said, failing to realise that he was being taped. Well, allegedly failing. For really, it was hard to read the comments without feeling sucked into a ruse, a trap laid by Mourinho to strong-arm the Chelsea hierarchy into spending big this summer.

The diagnosis cannot have gone down well in the Chelsea dressing room. Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba all have the word "striker" near the top of their CV (even if, for Ba, it’s nestled just below "syrup connoisseur"). They have almost 100 international goals between. All would be snapped up by most other Premier League clubs if the chance arose.

But Chelsea, of course, are not just another Premier League club. Not in the Abramovich era. Not with Mourinho in charge.

Shaun Botterill

His method of delivery may have lacked the human touch, but it would be disingenuous to argue that any of his strikers are at the same level as the rest of his side. Torres (and I wrote this as a card-holding member of the Club-Neutral Fernando Torres Fanclub) has disappointed for so long that it is hard to even remember his flaxen-haired pomp. His career is fast becoming a sad series of failed resurrections. A change of scenery would surely do him good.

Eto’o has looked sharp in patches but lacks the quicksilver edge of yesteryear. While in his previous life under Mourinho, at Inter, he was , he now lacks the physical presence that Chelsea’s fans – weaned on Didier Drogba – long for. Ba provides that much, but struggles when asked to contribute to the intricate approach play in which Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian specialise.

It should perhaps not be surprising, then, that Chelsea have been linked with a revolving cast of strikers in the past year or so. A couple have slipped from the radar; Edinson Cavani, who looked set to stay at PSG, is now being linked with a move to Old Trafford, while Radamel Falcao is working his way back from a serious injury.

Let’s start with the obvious: Diego Costa is He was the driving force (on the pitch, at least) behind Atletico Madrid’s sensational season, plundering goals aplenty in La Liga and shining in the Champions League.

Bullish, committed and physically imposing, he stands out from the crowd in this era of PR-managed, air-brushed stardom. His style isn’t especially aesthetically pleasing: he’s all elbows and knees and spittle and scuffed finishes. But – perhaps for that very reason – defences cannot deal with him. If Cristiano Ronaldo is a Rolls Royce and Lionel Messi a nippy sports car, Diego Costa is a bulldozer; if he can’t go round you, he’ll bloody well go through you.

It isn’t hard to imagine how good he’d be for Chelsea. Part of the brief for any striker at Stamford Bridge these days is mere distraction – giving defenders enough to think about that they forget about Hazard, Oscar and co. Costa, who somehow manages to embody roughly 23 distinct threats at once, is exactly the sort of battering ram needed.

He is also the kind of player who, when others are struggling, can drag a side to victory single-handedly. Neither Eto’o nor Torres has the same lion-heart spirit, not any more. Both can shine on a given afternoon when conditions are right.

Now that Mourinho has his man, next year’s Premier League title race could be decidedly less competitive than it has been this year. While Chelsea’s defence has been magnificent, they lacked the firepower of their competitors last term.

Manchester United have Robin van Persie. Manchester City have Sergio Aguero. Next season, Chelsea hope to have Diego Costa. He is in the same bracket. It could be a game changer.

(This piece was originally published on 16/04/14).

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Valencia sack Juan Antonio Pizzi after just half a season in charge at the Mestalla

Alex Grimm

Juan Antonio Pizzi has been sacked

only took over from Miroslav Djukic in December but has now been shown the door after a disappointing league finish of eighth.

As a result they will not play in Europe next season and in addition fell to

The former Champions League and UEFA Cup winners have long been mired in financial trouble and are in the process of being purchased by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim.

With several new names being linked with the club Lim had apparently pushed for a change of manager and has now got his wish.

Spanish media report that former Deportivo La Coruna and Porto goalkeeper Nuno is set to replace Pizzi in the hot seat.

The 40-year-old only ended his playing career three years ago and was part of the coaching staff which took Rio Ave to the finals of both domestic cups in Portugal last season, losing on both occasions to league champions Benfica.

Luis Suarez ban: Gerard Houllier feels sorry for Liverpool over biting controversy

Gerard Houllier says he feels sorry for Liverpool following

The Frenchman, is cursing the suspension which will see him miss four months of football.

Indeed the 66-year-old feels the Uruguayan could well have been player of the tournament had he

"I feel sorry for what happened, I felt for my Liverpool friends," he said:

"He’s such an outstanding talent that could have been player of the tournament, the way things had been going, simple as that."

 

Houllier also believes that such was the psychological impact of Suarez’s ban and the furore surrounding it, weren’t anywhere near at the races in the second round.

"When Uruguay played the match against Colombia I think they were under the shock [of the ban]," he added. "They played four games and won two with Suarez and they lost two without him.

"You don’t like to see an outstanding talent out of football for so long.

"He made a mistake, he will agree with that and even apologised and now we just have to wait until he comes back."

Houllier also provoked laughter when he used an unfortunate phrase while discussing

Houllier added: "South American teams seem to have an aggressive bite here in Brazil…look at Colombia, Uruguay… maybe ‘bite’ is not a good word to use for Uruguay…"

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Brian Reade on Luis Suarez: Liverpool must play hardball as Barcelona go from tiki-taka to tacky-tacky – Brian Reade

PA

It’s good to see Barcelona’s camper-van turn up at this summer of footballing love with flowers in their wipers and peace signs on the windows.

Good to see this font of all righteousness take a moral lead by urging the world to turn the other cheek to a repentant sinner.

“Luis Suarez has been humble enough to apologise to those he has offended… it’s the best thing a person can do,” .

“He is an honourable man,” .

Once again, the institution that so modestly calls itself “more than a club” is looking after the oppressed.

Just as they did when they urged Arsenal to allow that poor missing child Cesc Fabregas to return home (on the cheap) and Liverpool to “act humanely” and release a “depressed” Javier Mascherano into their care (on the cheap).

Tiki-taka may be dead, but tacky-tacky is still the Barcelona way when it comes to tapping up the world’s best players then haggling for a massive price reduction on humanitarian grounds.

And, .

Of course, it takes two to tango and in Suarez they have .

Liverpool and their fans have been mocked for being defenders of the indefensible when it comes to Suarez. But this time, among most of them, there’s little appetite to go on the defensive.

At best, was embarrassing, the justification excruciating, the late apology grovelling and the lack of consultation, or concern for the club that stood to pay him £3million for a four-month absence from football, was sobering.

 

To wise ears, that apology was more a legal statement on the “Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself” section of his Barcelona job application form (salary already agreed).

It sounded like a man who’d been caught in a brothel on a stag trip and instead of apologising to his wife, begged forgiveness from his mistress.

In an ideal world, Suarez would come out and apologise to Liverpool for letting them down, again, and being banned, again, and vow to honour the five-year contract he signed at Christmas.

Which he may be forced to do if Barcelona refuse to meet his get-out price.

But right now, all he offers are the familiar depressing noises about being let-down by the club (apparently, Brendan Rodgers offended him by saying he wasn’t missed during his lengthy suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic) and how he needs to escape the persecution of the British media.

As far as Liverpudlians are concerned, for the second summer running he’s become the big brown floater that’s closed down the hotel swimming pool. And if he stays against his will again, the chances are it will happen next summer.

Luis Suarez’s Liverpool career in pictures:

Luis Suarez 

Do Liverpool really need to lower themselves, begging someone to stay who doesn’t want to be there?

They’re back in the Champions League, meaning the £80m they want for Suarez would give them a great chance of attracting three world-class players – unlike Spurs who weren’t able to fully exploit the Gareth Bale windfall because the top performers don’t want Thursday night football.

Suarez is a major reason they are back in Europe’s elite, which is why few Kopites will feel any lasting anger towards him if his release clause is met and he gets what he wants.

 

That’s all it’s about now for Liverpool – remembering the most sought-after striker in the world is under long-term contract to them. And playing hardball.

If those hip Catalans believe they are about to engage in a reality-changing, summer-long pow-wow that knocks his price down by £20m, it’s time for John Henry to step up to the plate again.

And ask them what kind of dope they’re smoking over there.

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