Japanese attacking midfielder Takefusa Kubo has already provided Real Madrid fans with glimpses of his unbelievable potential in pre-season.
Having signed for Los Blancos this summer on a free transfer, the 18-year-old has been a shining light in what has been a pretty disastrous pre-season for the Spanish giants.
Kubo made his debut against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup and it took him just 45 minutes to showcase his brilliant technical ability.
It is, therefore, no doubt that the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona were interested in signing Kubo, yet managed to miss out in bizarre fashion after misjudging his contract situation.
Both European giants thought Kubo's contract expired in June 2020, due to an error on Transfermarkt. However, Madrid enquired about his contract to J-League side FC Tokyo and it turned out the wonderkid's contract expired in June 2019, and Los Merengues pounced to secure a five-year deal for the starlet.
Despite it being a free transfer, PSG and Barcelona made a costly mistake and it could turn out to be a bad miscalculation on the La Liga champions' part, as Kubo was actually a former Barca player.
The diminutive midfielder joined La Masia in August 2011 after impressing in Barcelona's soccer camp and Barcelona school team a couple of years prior. He had always been a prodigious talent, managing to pick up the MVP award in both competitions and went on to score an insane tally of 74 goals in 30 games in his first full season at La Masia.
However, he had to leave La Blaugrana due to the club being found to have violated FIFA’s international transfer policy for Under-18 youths, making Kubo ineligible to play for the club.
Kubo then returned back to his home nation and joined FC Tokyo and proceeded to make a name for himself with his astonishing close control and progressive play, earning him the 'Japanese Messi' moniker.
The 18-year-old's style of play is very similar to that of the Barcelona legend, as they both carry the ball with great acceleration and have the ability to humiliate opposition players with their exceptional skill.
The prodigy had a standout campaign in the Japanese top flight last campaign, contributing to a goal every 123 minutes - an astonishing rate considering his age. Yet it was his sheer dominance on the pitch that caught all the top clubs' attention.
As mentioned earlier, his dribbling and directness are crucial parts of his game that he has already shown that he excels in. However, he is more than a dribbling machine as his game is very complete for a player of his youth.
Incisive passing, an innate knowledge of spatial awareness and his proficiency in keeping possession of the ball in tight spaces are staples to the Japanese player's game and hence, makes him one of the best prospects in world football.
Having also added creativity and scoring to his game last season, the sky's the limit for Kubo and it will be frightening to see Real Madrid's attack in a few years' time given they have already spent big on the likes of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.
His season in Japan did not go unnoticed by his competitors, with Barcelona legend and now Vissel Kobe star Andres Iniesta touting the Japanese midfielder for huge success and stated as quoted by Marca: "He is an impressive talent and has a great future ahead of him. He is a young player who is gifted enough to earn a spot at one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
With praise coming from one of the greatest ever midfielders to an up-and-coming midfielder, it highlights that the lofty expectations set for this young kid are more than justified and he can perhaps live up to that hype.
The youngster has also been inserted into the national set-up and was called up to play for Japan in the Copa America, where he displayed several glimpses of his ability. The teenager’s blend of quick thinking and creativity caught the eye during the tournament, but based on his showings he will need to improve against opponents who use physical approaches.
The gifted midfielder is unlikely going to play for Los Merengues a whole lot this upcoming campaign due to the sheer talent and depth that Madrid have but with the devastating injury suffered by Marco Asensio ruling the Spaniard out for most of the upcoming campaign, spots could open up for the Japanese wonderkid and he can definitely go on to prove why he is one of the best youngsters around.