JOHN Rankin was tickled to learn yesterday that his Dundee United team-mate Ryan Gauld was watched by a representative from Real Madrid on Tuesday night during the 4-1 League Cup victory over Partick Thistle.
However, he stressed that he was not surprised.
The 17-year-old Gauld, who came on as a second half substitute against Thistle, has been a revelation at times for United since making a breakthrough last season and according to one newspaper report yesterday, he has attracted the attention of the Spanish club, who sit third in La Liga.
“Ryan has a massive future,” said Rankin, who was at Hampden Park yesterday to see Dundee United handed a tricky-looking away tie Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the quarter finals of the League Cup. “Gauldy is one of those boys who is so slight. He is wiry.
“You wouldn’t expect him to be as strong as he is at his size. You think you are past him, then he just has that wee injection of pace with quickness and sharpness.
“His feet are incredible. He is only 17 and turns 18 just before the Christmas night out, which I’m sure he is happy about.
“But the talent in the boy is incredible. If he is being linked with Real Madrid at that age then it wouldn’t surprise me, it really wouldn’t.”
Rankin began his career as a youth player at Manchester United and he likens Gauld’s impact to that made by Darren Fletcher made when he arrived at Old Trafford as a teenager.
“He [Fletcher] was phenomenal,” he recalled. “He came down and trained for a week then went straight into the reserve team.
“He was on a different planet. But Ryan Gauld is right up there.
“The Real Madrid link will delight the boys tomorrow,” he admitted. “They will be looking out the Spanish phrase books.
“We’ll be going for him.”