Football fans are always excited to learn about wonderkids and Europe’s best clubs are always on the hunt to get hold of promising young talents as soon as they can. Japan’s teenage sensation Takefusa Kubo is one such talent wanted by several big clubs. The diminutive 18-year-old is regarded as one of the most promising technically-sound midfielders in the game.
On 14 June 2019, Spanish giants Real Madrid signed Takefusa Kubo from Japanese club FC Tokyo on an undisclosed fee. However, the teenager’s transfer to Los Blancos caused quite a stir in Spain as the creative midfielder’s history with arch-rival Barcelona. The Japanese youngster spent four years at Barcelona’s fabled La Masia academy, the place that has produced a number of the most technically-gifted players to grace a football pitch since it opened its doors in 1979.
Kubo started his career at the age of seven for a local club based in his home city Kawasaki, FC Persimmon. In 2009, Kubo participated in an FC Barcelona Soccer Camp and was judged MVP for his performance. The next year, he was selected as a member of FC Barcelona School team which participated in the prestigious Sodexo European Rusas Cup held in Belgium. Kubo once again showed his class as he was awarded the Player of the tournament despite his team finished third. After returning home, he joined the Kawasaki Frontale academy and played for their junior youth teams.
In August 2011, Kubo had been invited for trials at FC Barcelona’s famed youth academy, La Masia. He impressed everyone with his skills and technical ability and successfully passed the trial. After being enrolled in La Masia, he began to play for Barca Alevin C (U11). During his first full season (2012–13), he was top goalscorer in the league with 74 goals in 30 games. In his third full season (2014–15), he was promoted to Barca Infantil A (U14). It looked like Kubo was destined to earn his spot among some of La Masia’s most notable alumni who have all worked their way up through the ranks. He was dubbed “Japanese Messi” by Catalan media. In many ways, Kubo should have followed that path, but through no fault of his own, it was not to be.
In 2014, Barcelona were fined and slapped with a two-window transfer ban for violating FIFA’s international transfer policy regarding signing underage players, making the youngster ineligible to play for the Blaugrana. Kubo, unfortunately, paid the price for the club’s mishandling and was in tears when forced to leave the club. He returned to Japan on March 2015 in search of playing time, signing with FC Tokyo’s junior youth team.
Takefusa Kubo joined FC Tokyo U-18 team in 2016. After a few months, he was promoted to the senior side at the age of fifteen. On 5 November, he made his formal debut for the reserve team in the J3 League as a halftime sub for a match against AC Nagano Parceiro. On 15 April 2017 Kubo became the youngest player to score in the J.League at 15 years, 10 months in a 1-0 win over Cerezo Osaka U-23. Kubo impressed everyone at the club and was awarded with an improved contract before he was moved to Yokohama F. Marinos for a half-season loan spell.
Shortly before his eighteenth birthday, he was named in the Japanese squad for the 2019 Copa America, which marked his first call up to the senior squad. He made his debut on 9 June 2019 in a friendly against El Salvador. Three days later, Kubo signed with Spanish club Real Madrid on a five-year deal.
Although Kubo was initially registered with Real Madrid Castilla for the 2019-20 season. However, he could have a much bigger role to play in the first team. The 18-year-old has been hugely impressive in training and many at the club think he will feature for the first team sooner than anticipated.
He made his debut with an impressive performance against Bayern Munich in a pre-season friendly. Los Blancos have lost 3-1 on the night, but the performance of Kubo was a huge plus. Coming on at half-time, Kubo looked confident on the ball and was one of Real Madrid’s most dangerous players in the second half. Real Madrid and Zinadine Zidane has a very unique talent in their hands and if he continues to develop in this fashion, who knows he might become Madrid’s “Messi”.