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Real Madrid revenge? Real Sociedad ace Takefusa Kubo primed to shock his old club

There is a huge game in LaLiga Santander this weekend as second-placed Real Madrid host third-placed Real Sociedad.

The Basque side will travel to the Spanish capital high on confidence, having won five league matches in a row. Among the players Real Madrid will have to watch out for is Takefusa Kubo, the Japanese sensation who has started 2023 in excellent form.

Despite being only 21 years of age, Kubo is already a leader for Real Sociedad and has been one of the team's best players in recent weeks. The Japanese winger scored in his side's victory in the Basque Derby against Athletic Club, which was a key win for Imanol Alguacil's side.

Real Sociedad are sitting third in LaLiga Santander and have a great chance of returning to the Champions League, a competition they haven't featured in since 2013/14. They will hope to collect more points when they visit the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu this Sunday night (21:00 CET), taking on reigning Spanish champions Real Madrid, a club Kubo knows very well.


More than 100 LaLiga Santander appearances at just 21 years of age

Kubo made his LaLiga Santander debut in early September 2019, with the then-18-year-old showing glimpses of quality right from the start. A technically excellent attacking midfielder with a creative spark and liking for hard work, Kubo is already a senior international with Japan.

Born in Kawasaki on June 4th 2001, Kubo was no stranger to Spanish football when he signed for Real Madrid back in summer 2019, as he'd entered FC Barcelona's famed La Masiayouth academy aged just 10. He scored a whopping 74 goals in 30 games during his first season in Barcelona, impressing at each youth team rank until he returned to his home country in March 2015.

Kubo's rapid development continued at FC Tokyo's U-23 side, where the following November he became the youngest player to ever debut in the J1 League (15 years, 5 months and 1 day). A goal against Cerezo Osaka the following April made him the youngest ever scorer in the competition (15 years, 10 months and 11 days).

After a spell on loan at hometown club Yokohama F. Marinos, the 2019 J1 League season saw Kubo emerge as a regular goal scorer and creator for FC Tokyo's senior side. So it came as no surprise that, after turning 18 in June, he returned to Europe and LaLiga Santander, with his signing a big coup for FC Barcelona's arch rivals Real Madrid.

June of 2019 also saw the skillful left-footer make his senior international debut in a friendly against El Salvador, making him the second youngest player ever to earn a full cap with the Samurai Blue. He then featured in all three of Japan's games at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, as the invited Asian guests achieved notable draws against Uruguay and Ecuador.

Kubo was initially expected to spend his first season with Real Madrid's Castilla youth team in Spain's third tier, while training with the senior side. But his immediate impact during the senior side's pre-season outings drew interest from several LaLiga Santander clubs and it was decided that a year at RCD Mallorca would best help him develop and settle on and off the pitch. Kubo, then, became the third Japanese player in Los Bermellones' history, after Yoshito Okubo and Akihiro Ienaga.

After spending 2020/21 at Villarreal CF and Getafe CF, Kubo returned on another loan to RCD Mallorca for the 2021/22 campaign, after an amazing performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games, where he carried Japan to a fourth place finish with three goals and one assist, starting each of their six games. He had another good season on the island, helping the team to avoid relegation. That then earned him a permanent transfer to Real Sociedad in the summer of 2022.

Altogether, he has played 110 LaLiga Santander matches across all the aforementioned clubs. The 111th will be extra special, as he visits the Bernabéu.

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