MADRID: Real Madrid’s Japanese talent Takefusa Kubo has joined Villarreal on loan for the 2020/21 season, the clubs announced on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old winger spent last season on loan at relegated Real Mallorca and impressed, registering four goals and five assists in 35 La Liga appearances.
One of Kubo’s best displays came in Mallorca’s 3-1 win over Villarreal in November, when he won a penalty before scoring himself with a superb, long-range shot into the corner.
Joining Villarreal, who will play under Unai Emery in the Europa League next term after just missing out on the top four, will be another step up for the teenager.
“Real Madrid and Villarreal have reached an agreement over the loan of Takefusa Kubo for next season in a deal running up until June 30 2021,” read a statement from Real Madrid.
Kubo, who has already earned seven caps for the Japanese national team, will be presented at Villarreal’s La Ceramica stadium on Tuesday.
Villarreal described him as a “young midfielder who has magnificent ball control, stands out for his extraordinary ability to go past opponents and possesses excellent vision of the game”.
Kubo joined Barcelona’s La Masia academy aged 10 and once asked Lionel Messi for an autograph during his four years at the club.
But Barca were served with a two-year transfer ban in 2015 after breaking Fifa regulations on signing youth players, and Kubo was among several youngsters forced to leave.
He returned to Japan, where he joined FC Tokyo, and while Barcelona were expected to bring him back to Spain eventually, Real Madrid stole a march on their rivals by signing him on a six-year contract last year.
Zinedine Zidane praised Kubo’s performance when he played for Mallorca against his parent club in June. Real Madrid won the game 2-0.
“He’s a very clever player, he always tries to go for goal and I’m not surprised by how well he played,” Zidane said.
Before the match, Zidane said: “I’m glad he has been playing regularly, that is what we were looking for. He is very good and it would be better for us if he didn’t play tomorrow. But it is what we were looking for in the club that he joined, that he plays regularly.”
Several La Liga clubs expressed an interest in Kubo but Madrid saw Villarreal as the best option.
They finished fifth in La Liga after a strong end to the season and Emery, who has replaced Javi Calleja as coach, is believed to have been especially keen on his signing.
Villarreal are adding reinforcements after losing key player Santi Cazorla to Al-Sadd in Qatar, with Valencia’s Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin both linked with joining the club.