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Dundee United prospect Ryan Gauld has emerged as a shock target for Spanish aristocrats Real Madrid.

Scouring Europe for the best young talent, the nine-time European champions already have teenage Scots prospect Jack Harper on their books.

And 17-year-old Gauld was the subject of a scouting mission by a Real scout as the youngster emerged from the bench for Wednesday night’s 4-1 League Cup win over Partick Thistle at Tannadice.

United’s teenage defender John Souttar has also attracted admiring eyes from a raft of English clubs.

However, speaking as the Tayside club landed a tough away clash with SPFL leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup quarterfinals, United midfielder John Rankin insisted Gauld is the Real deal.

‘Ryan has a massive future,’ said Rankin. ‘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.

‘He is so level headed and if anyone deserves it, it would be him.

‘I don’t know if someone is hyping it up or someone is just trying to make a story.

‘But I hope for the sake of the boy it’s true.

‘It certainly would not surprise me if he moved on to a big club. You want to see him doing well.

‘He is so grounded and I hope for his sake and for the sake of the club – and a right few million – that it’s true.’

Rankin, 30, was with Manchester United as a youngster and Scotland Under-19 international Gauld reminds him of another extravagant talent from his Old Trafford days.

‘I would say he is up there with Darren Fletcher,’ he said.

‘He (Fletcher) was phenomenal. He came down and trained for a week and then he went straight into the reserve team. He was on a different planet.

‘But Ryan Gauld is right up there. He definitely has the potential to have the rest of us sitting in an armchair in a few years with the feet up saying: “I played with him.” You put your chest out and feel proud to say it.

‘But the Real Madrid link will delight the boys tomorrow. They will be looking out the Spanish phrase books. We’ll be going for him tomorrow!’

Source: Daily Mail

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