Football News

“I want to surprise the world” — Real Madrid’s ‘Japanese Messi’ eyeing up Olympic Gold to emulate Barca star

By Ben Green

Published: 18:02, 20 July 2021

Real Madrid’s Japanese sensation Takefusa Kubo is eyeing up Olympic glory this summer in a bid to kickstart his career after an underwhelming 2020/21 on loan at Villarreal and later Getafe.

Kubo, 20, enjoyed a breakthrough season on loan at Mallorca from Los Blancos in 2019/20, during which time he netted four goals and registered four assists for The Pirates, even attempting 125 take-ons, the fifth most in La Liga that season, with Lionel Messi naturally sweeping the board for that particular metric (263).

Dubbed the ‘Japanese Messi’, it was clear for anyone who watched Kubo at the Visit Mallorca Estadi that he was a player who possessed all the attributes of living up to his moniker, impressing the Catalan club with his wonderfully-deft feet and double-jointed ankles, despite the club’s eventual relegation.

Given his emergence in La Liga, Kubo was sent to Unai Emery’s Villarreal last summer with the hope that he would push on and continue his rapid rise to prominence. However, he failed to make inroads in the first half of the campaign, and was subsequently recalled to the capital in January.

Emery’s Yellow Submarine went on to win the Europa League, while Kubo remained local for his second stint away from Los Blancos, joining south Madrid club Getafe, though he once again struggled to make a tangible imprint, starting only eight games as the Deep Blue Ones just staved off relegation.

With Kubo’s career now seemingly in flux after a lukewarm campaign away from Real, he will no doubt be eyeing up Olympic glory — hosted in his native Japan — to relaunch his career and catch the attention of new head coach Carlo Ancelotti, with the Japanese star hoping to emulate Messi — who won Gold in 2008 — and seal first place at this summer’s tournament.

“I’m going to the Olympics with the intention of winning,” said Kubo.

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“I don’t think that winning will close the gap between Japan and the world. However, I think that winning will be an appeal to the world, both for me and as a team.

“I want us to have a tournament that will surprise the world.”

There are 16 national teams taking part at the Men’s Olympic football tournament at Tokyo 2020, including the likes of Spain, Brazil and Germany, with the belated tournament getting underway on July 22, in which Kubo’s Japan take on South Africa for their curtain-raiser.

They have been placed into Group A which also includes France, who boasts the likes of Andre-Pierre Gignac, Florian Thauvin and Timothee Pembele in their squad, as well as Mexico, whose most notable asset comes in the form of Real Betis wing-wizard Diego Lainez, the only overseas player in their squad.

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