BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City
Much vaunted Scottish prospect Jack Harper has given up on his Real Madrid dream by joining Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 19-year-old, who was a regular in the Spanish giants’ youth side last term, has penned a two-year deal with the SkyBet Championship club.
Harper was thought to be highly-regarded at the Bernabeu but decided that his playing time would be limited following the news that they were scrapping their ‘C’ team.
Instead of pursuing a loan deal in the Spanish lower leagues, Harper – who was born in Malaga to Scottish parents – has decided to try his luck in British football.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton said: “Even at the age of 19, Jack is a well-known name and having spent the past six years at Real Madrid, there is no doubting his pedigree.
“He has a lot of potential, is a skilful type, with a good eye for goal, and can operate as a striker or playing just off of a striker. We hope we can give him the platform to realise his undoubted potential.
“He has had an excellent grounding, having come through the youth system at Real Madrid – and also has international experience at youth level, having featured for Scotland’s under-17 and under-19 sides.”
Despite joining Real at the age of 13, spending his entire career in Spain and never playing a senior match, Harper is already a familiar name to fans in Scotland.
The rangy forward, who netted three goals in six games in the UEFA Youth League last term, has represented the national side at under-15, 17 and 19 level.
Indeed, there was something of an outcry when he was left out of the squad for the European Under-19 Championships earlier this year, with manager Ricky Sbragia widely pilloried for describing him as a “luxury player”.
Harper will miss out on the opportunity to make his debut on Scottish soil when Brighton face Aberdeen on Sunday because he is recovering from an existing knee injury.
He suffered the damage at the tail end of last season and it is expected to keep him sidelined for two months.