Takefusa Kubo’s profile has been boosted significantly over the past couple of weeks.
The Japanese attacking midfielder, who arrived at the Bernabeu from FC Tokyo in June, has been one of Real Madrid’s standout performers in pre-season.
The 18-year-old, dubbed ‘the Japanese Messi’ prior to his move to Madrid, was expected to be part of the club’s Castilla (youth) team this season - but he’s given Zinedine Zidane some serious food for thought in recent weeks.
Kubo rejected a host of top clubs including Barcelona, the club he previously played for at youth level, in order to sign for Madrid.
And the Spanish giants appear to have secured the services of a teenager with the potential to become one of the world’s best footballers.
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Not only that, but Kubo also comes across as very level-headed and mature for his age - both on and off the pitch.
The Kawasaki-born midfielder, who stands at 5ft 8in tall, was handed another opportunity to impress Zidane in the game against local rivals Atletico Madrid on Friday night.
However, by the time Kubo entered the fray, Atletico were already 6-1 up.
Kubo came on for Luka Modric, though, and again managed to show why he’s so highly-rated.
He was bright and confident after coming on at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey - despite the scoreline - and went close to scoring with a long-range effort with minutes left to play.
Jan Oblak could only parry Kubo’s fizzing left-footed drive, before Javi Hernandez eventfully stuck the ball in the net as Madrid made the scoreline 7-3.
Watch Kubo’s individual highlights here… (click play on the black video window).
Spanish newspaper Marca allow Madrid fans to vote for their best and worst performers after every match and it was Kubo who came out on top following the Atletico game.
Thibaut Courtois came last (21st) - unsurprisingly after conceding seven goals - while Sergio Ramos, Modric and Vinicius Jr. were also near the bottom of the pile.
But Kubo impressed enough to get significantly more up votes than down votes.
“Played in the space where Isco had, but the game was over by the time he came on so should be excused from the analysis,” Marca wrote. “A good shot forced Oblak into action.”
Following this shambolic team performance, we might see Kubo back in the starting line-up against Tottenham on Tuesday.News Now - Sport News