Player of the Year awards don’t tend to be handed out midway through the season, but if they were Martin Ødegaard would surely warrant a mention in La Liga. The Norwegian has truly flourished over the past few months, showcasing the sort of talent that led him to be labelled football’s next big thing as a 16-year-old. Indeed, Ødegaard has impressed on loan at Real Sociedad to such an extent that speculation has swirled that Real Madrid could recall him early.
Ødegaard isn’t the only on loan Madrid youngster catching the eye in La Liga, though. Takefusa Kubo doesn’t quite have the reputation of his Scandinavian counterpart, but the Japanese teenager has shown glimpses on brilliance out on loan at Real Mallorca this season. Nobody is quite talking about Real Madrid recalling him early, but nonetheless Kubo is proving himself for the island team.
It’s not just Real Madrid who see great potential in Kubo. He was, after all, a Barcelona player for a short spell, scoring an astonishing 74 goals in 30 games in his first full season for the Catalan club’s youth team. Kubo was forced to leave the Camp Nou due to Barcelona’s violation of international transfer policy, returning to Japan before being signed by Madrid on a five-year deal this summer.
Kubo played the full 90 minutes of Real Mallorca’s 5-2 defeat to Barcelona on Saturday, threatening at times and even nutmegging Lionel Messi. Diminutive and tricky, the 18-year-old has been labelled the Japanese Messi by some. The youngster was booed by the home supporters inside the Camp Nou, but that was to be expected given the path that took him to the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It's the fans' decision [to whistle me],” Kubo said after the match. “I took my decision and they have the right to whistle me. I think I deserve it, even though some fans were applauding and giving me support.
Is it a shame? No, they have to see me as an opponent, not as an 18-year-old boy who plays football quite well.
Along with Achraf Hakimi, who has excelled at Borussia Dortmund, and Ødegaard, who looks every bit the elite level playmaker at Real Sociedad, Kubo is part of an on-loan contingent seemingly destined to carry Real Madrid into a new age in the future. He is not ready for that yet, but the Japanese teenager is preparing for a career in the spotlight.