Takefusa Kubo – Another Takayuki Morimoto, Freddy Adu or THE REAL DEAL?

Articles on the history of Takefusa Kubo:

Arsenal interested in Kubo ー Bleacher Report (in English)

Takefusa Kubo promoted to FC Tokyo’s 1st Team ー Nikkan Sports (in Japanese)

This has been hot on the newswire of J.League and soccer in Japan: At the ripe age of 15 years old, Takefusa Kubo has been registered to FC Tokyo’s 1st Team.

Kubo began his career at the youth level of Kawasaki Frontale’s junior youth academy before joining Barcelona’s renowned Masia youth academy at the age of 11. His performances drew attention and were well-accepted; however, FIFA enforced a transfer embargo on Barcelona after they were found to have done inappropriate transfer dealings, and Kubo was one player part of the dealings. Therefore, at the age of 13, he would also forced to sit out official matches until he was 18 years old.

Not being able to 5 years to play in official matches for Barcelona, Kubo and his family made the decision to return to Japan despite interest from other decorated clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester City. In the end, Kubo joined FC Tokyo, who are also known to have a good youth setup in Japan.

It goes without saying that Kubo has been lighting up the U-18 league with his unpredictable, yet creative play. So much so that the new FC Tokyo’s new manager and former coach Yoshiyuki Shinoda decided to promote Kubo to the 1st team.

If Kubo does feature in a J.League match, he has the chance of breaking Takayuki Morimoto’s 12 year record as the youngest player to appear in a J.League match. Morimoto appeared off the bench for his club, Tokyo Verdy, when he was 15 years, 10 months, and 6 days old. Morimoto then went to become the J.League’s youngest goalscorer at 15 years, 11 months, and 28 days old. Morimoto was all the hype. He had explosive speed, no fear, and a nose for goal. After 2 years in the J.League, he transferred to Serie A team Catania and started with a bang after scoring a goal as a substitute in his debut match. However, his career took a downturn after he injured his ACL. Morimoto had some success in Italy after recovering from his ACL injury, but he was hampered by other injuries and he was transferred back to Japan in 2013. Presently, Morimoto is playing for Kawasaki Frontale and is seeing extremely limited playing time.

Also, the tale of Freddy Adu is well-known. He was labeled as the next Pele and he set the MLS on fire with his debut. During his time in the MLS, Adu had a few run-ins with his managers about playing time, position issues, and his status within the team. Long story short, Adu has never been a central figure for the US Men’s National Team, and he has bounced from team to team, 13 to be exact, around the world. He now plies his trade with the Tampa Bay Rowdies which are currently in North American Soccer League (NASL), the 2nd division in the stratosphere of professional soccer in the US.

So, the main question here is:

How will Takefusa Kubo end up?

A: It depends on how FC Tokyo and the JFA nurture Kubo as NOT ONLY a footballer, but also as a HUMAN BEING. My main fear is Kubo being forced into the spotlight and the Japanese media will continuously label him the “Japanese Messi”. Yes, Kubo has got great, great potential. I will go out on a limb and say that he could be the greatest footballer Japan has ever seen. However, this will only happen if he is brought up properly. Unfortunately, Japan does not have the experience of nurturing prodigies such as Kubo. Perhaps only the likes of Hidetoshi Nakata has been nurtured within Japan before he moved to Italy, but Nakata was very individualistic in his approach; meaning, he knew what he had to do to become the best.

In my opinion, Takefusa Kubo might be better off making a transfer to Arsenal because they are renowned for bringing young player through their system and into the first team. In addition, Arsenal has been showing interest in Japanese players in recent years with Ryo Miyaichi (although unsuccessful) and Takuma Asano (although unproven and without a working permit). Or, Kubo might decide to stay in Japan and develop until his 18th birthday, and then make a return to Barcelona.

The world is Kubo’s oyster, but the current world around him will decide what will happen in the future.

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