"That will delight the boys," he said, laughing. "They will be looking out the Spanish phrasebooks. We'll be going for him tomorrow."
This intended target for this dressing-room joshing will be Ryan Gauld, the prodigious Dundee United forward, whose burgeoning talent has attracted the interest of a number of clubs, the latest of which is Real Madrid, who reportedly sent a scout to Tannadice for United's League Cup victory over Partick Thistle on Wednesday night. David Goodwillie stole the headlines with a hat trick but it was Gauld that the nine-time European champions wanted to run an eye over, their representative no doubt relieved to see the 17 year-old introduced as a substitute with 15 minutes to play.
The teasing from team-mates will be inevitable but Rankin also put his serious head on to confirm Gauld as one of the brightest prospects he has ever seen. Considering the 30-year-old started his career at Manchester United, that is quite the compliment. Gauld has only appeared in 20 first-team games but clubs of the size of Real rarely hesitate when it comes to snapping up emerging talent.
Rankin naturally hopes the player - who turns 18 in December - will stay at Tannadice for a few more years yet but was unequivocal in his assertion that Gauld is a talent destined for the highest stage. "Ryan has a massive future," he said. "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.
"I would say he is up there with Darren Fletcher. Darren was phenomenal. He came down and trained for a week [at Manchester United] then went into the reserve team. He was on a different planet. But Ryan is right up there. He 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 would put your chest out and feel proud to say it.
"Gauldy is one of those boys who is slight but 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."
Rankin revealed that the 17 year-old is as grounded as he is talented. "He is so level-headed and if anyone deserves it, it would be him," he said. "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 would not surprise me if he moved onto a big club.
"Someone asked me last week what he is like to train with. The answer is that when you get nutmegged in training you usually want to go and kick them as hard as you can. But you can't do that to the wee man; you just laugh. You accept it because it's him and he is such a nice guy. You want to see him doing well. He gives you the wee snigger at the other side where other boys would be running away somersaulting and dancing. He's not like that at all. He is so grounded and I hope for his sake and for the sake of the club - and a right few million pounds - that it is true."
Rankin also feels that United have another 17-year-old talent who will soon be appearing on the radars of major clubs. "I know everyone is talking about Gauldy right now, but I see no reason why John Souttar can't reach that level either," he said of the defender, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday. "The boy is a great prospect and so laidback on the ball. I don't know another centre back who would try backheels, drag backs and nutmegs on guys on the edge of their own 18-yard box. I'm only 30 and it's bad for my heart when I play with him.
"But there is no fear in him either. His younger brother plays for us as well. It's good for the club when you see the youth system working and the players they have moved on."