Real sign ‘Japanese Messi’ Kubo from FC Tokyo

Kubo joined Barca’s academy when he was just nine years old. (AFP pic)

TOKYO: Japanese striker Takefusa Kubo joined Real Madrid on Friday, with the Spanish La Liga club hailing the 18-year-old as “one of the most promising youngsters in world football”.

Details of the deal were not disclosed but Spanish newspaper Marca said Real have paid FC Tokyo a two million euro (US$2.25 million) transfer fee, while Kubo was expected to have signed a five-year contract.

Takefusa Kubo has been hailed as one of the most promising players to join Real Madrid. “Takefusa Kubo will come in to strengthen the Castilla ranks next season,” La Liga side Real said in a statement on their website.

“A technically gifted and hugely talented attacking midfielder, he possess wonderful vision, quick feet and has an eye for goal.”

Kubo, 18, earned his high-profile nickname after being invited to Barcelona’s youth academy as a nine-year-old.

Barcelona have kept tabs on the player since, but Real Madrid now look to be the front-runners to sign Kubo, whose dribbling skills made him a YouTube hit as a small boy.

Fierce rivals Barca tried to sign Kubo back in 2014 but were hit by a Fifa transfer ban for breaching rules on signing under-age players.

Kubo came on as a second-half substitute in Japan’s 2-0 win over El Salvador last weekend and has been included in the Blue Samurai squad for the Copa America, which begins Saturday.