Johnson linked to La Liga

The list of Middlesbrough players apparently attracting interest from other clubs grew today when it emerged that Spanish giants Real Madrid were on the trail on young winger Adam Johnson.

It is understood Real have identified the 21-year-old Sunderland-born left-sided midfielder as a potential target.

The La Liga outfit this week appointed former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos as their new coach, at the same time as the north Londoners were once again linked with a January move for England international Stewart Downing, the man to whom Johnson is currently the natural deputy.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate has insisted he is not under pressure to sell players, although acknowledges the fact that he will have to if he wants to spend during the forthcoming transfer window.

However, having seen Downing, Mido and Tuncay Sanli all linked with moves away from the Riverside Stadium in recent weeks, he will take the latest report with a pinch of salt until if and when anything happens.

Despite their determination to retain their best players, Boro know they would have to consider any "silly money" bids as they attempt to strike a financial balance.

Johnson has made 69 appearances for the club since being handed his senior debut in a Uefa Cup tie at Sporting Lisbon in 2005, but has started only three games to date this season and played in seven more as a substitute.

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