Barca Alumnus Kubo set to boost Japan. This impressive midfielder is dubbed as '' the Japanese Messi ''  by the fans.

DOHA : Takefusa Kubo was tipped for stardom after joining Barcelona's academy aged 10 and the Japanese attacking midfielder now looks poised to release his potential by taking the Asian Cup by storm.

The 22-year-old, who was signed by Real Madrid, has found his feet at Real Sociedad this season, scoring six goals and helping them top their Champions League group.

His eye-catching form has seen him linked with Manchester United.

Kubo played only a bit part at the 2022 World Cup but he is ready to take centre stage as Japan return to Qatar for the Asian Cup, which kicks off on Friday.

With Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma likely to miss the early part of their campaign through injury, Kubo's ability to unlock defences will be crucial.

'' I hope he can be a player who leads the team to victory,'' said Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu. 

'' He is playing for Real Sociedad in the Champions League and Spanish League and he's the player that they build their attack around. 

'' I want him to keep playing that way when he joins up with the national team.''

Kubo has been carrying Japanese fans' hopes and expectations ever since he left his native Kawasaki as a child to join Barcelona's famed La Masia Academy.

He was dubbed '' the Japanese Messi'', but was forced to leave when Barca were served with a two-year transfer ban in 2015 after breaking FIFA regulations on signing youth players.

Kubo joined FC Tokyo and played in the League until he turned 18, then signed for Real Madrid on a six-year contract.

He was loaned out straight away to Mallorca and bounced around a series of Spanish clubs before joining Sociedad on a permanent deal in 2022.

Kubo has thrived in San Sebastian, thrilling fans with his mesmerising dribbles and cheeky sense of humour. [AFP]


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