Rising star Ryan Gauld is already starting to generate buzz among clubs around Europe despite limited experience at the senior level with Dundee United. But the 17-year-old attacking midfielder downplayed links to Arsenal and other high-profile clubs.
The Scottish sensation was asked about a possible switch to a bigger club in the near future, as many players will be with the winter window approaching. Anthony Haggerty of the Daily Record reports that Gauld responded by saying staying with Dundee is probably his best option right now.
At the moment I think I need to stay at Dundee United to progress.
To be the best I can be, I need to be playing first team games.
If English Premier League clubs came calling now I would have to think what’s best for me four or five years down the line.
If I was to go down there I would have to seriously consider what my chances were of playing first team football and if I was stuck in the reserves would I enjoy that?
The report states that along with Arsenal, several other marquee clubs are tracking Gauld's progress, including Real Madrid and Manchester United. It gives off the sense there would be quite a battle if he did become available for a move.
Gauld also talked about preferring the Spanish game, where smaller players like Lionel Messi have been able to thrive, as opposed to the rough-and-tumble Premier League. But he didn't completely rule out any possibilities for the future.
Most importantly, his comments about making a move now and potentially having to sit on the bench for extended stretches shows great maturity.
Many young players wait for that first big chance to join a top club and jump at it right away. It's hard to blame them, of course, given the allure of clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal, but they soon find out the path to playing time is full of hurdles.
Being a reserve, even at a top club, isn't a good environment for trying to develop. Young players like Gauld need an opportunity to get on the pitch regularly to learn and improve so one day they might be ready to crack the starting lineup for an elite side.
Do you think Gauld will live up to the hype?
The fact Gauld seems to understand that bodes well for his future. Staying at Tannadice Park and then possibly moving to a mid-table La Liga or Premier League squad, where he'd know he'd play regularly, would be his best option in the coming years.
He's only 17. He could spend the next five years split between his current squad and one of those middling clubs in one of Europe's top leagues and still be considered a young player on the rise. So taking it slow is certainly the best course of action.
That doesn't mean Arsenal should totally abandon the pursuit, though. If Gauld lives up to the hype, he's only going to become a more expensive target with each passing window, especially with so many teams involved.
Jim Spence of BBC Scotland pointed out late last month that several big clubs came to watch the Terrors and all eyes were on Gauld:
A host of top clubs to be represented at Tannadice tonight Utd sources tell me. Ryan Gauld the centre of attention,— Jim Spence (@bbcjimspence) November 29, 2013
So Arsene Wenger and Co. should be checking in on his status regularly to see if anything changes. He has the potential to become a game-changing player, and signing him before the transfer cost skyrockets would be a huge coup for the Gunners.
It just doesn't sound like it's going to happen in the immediate future. Gauld seems comfortable with Dundee United, and it's a good club for him while he gains experience.
Arsenal should remain on high alert just in case something changes, though.