The Japanese in recent years have been the go to country for clubs in Europe seeking fresh, exciting talent. The Asian country have produced the likes of Hidetoshi Nakata, Shinshuke Nakamura and Kengo Nakamura while more recently Shinji Kagawa, Yuto Nagatomo and Keisuke Honda have all emerged from the hugely talented pool of players in the J- League. So when Barcelona snapped up wonderkid Takefusa Kubo,the 12 year old described as the 'new' Messi of Japan, Real Madrid were not to be left behind. In a move seemed almost competitive, the Los Merengues recently signed 9 year old Takuhiro Nakai. Sportunes presents a profile on these two geniuses on the block.
Takuhiro Nakai has been making waves in Japan since he was just 7. Nicknamed ' Papi', he was noticed when he appeared on Japanese TV displaying a dizzying array of skills. The 9 year old from Shiga Perfecture is still only in fourth grade in primary school but Real Madrid have obviously seen potential in the young lad, signing him to their lower branch of their youth academy, the famed Canterano. Nakai is known for his fast footwork and ball handling skills, which is rather advanced for his age. He can do rainbow flicks( whatever that means) and round- the world tricks that even professional players can only dream of doing. When up against other kids his age,no one can steal the ball from him as he dribbles down the field with elegance and flair way above his age. The Japanese have insisted that he could someday become the next Leo Messi and as cliche as that may sound, I seem to agree based on the short video clips I have seen. The Japanese are really excited by the prospect of Nakai lining up for Madrid someday and already the little kid can feel some pressure to live up to his huge talent. We can only wait and see what becomes of Papi.
Meet Nakai's direct competitor and the new face of the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Takefusa Kubo is the 12 year old Japanese from Kawasaki signed to Barcelona's famous La Masia in 2011.He was identified by Barcelona coaching staff while playing and training with Barcelona school of Fukouka in Southern Japan. He attracted world wide attention as the first Japanese ever to sign for the Catalans. So skinny he can barely fill out his jersey, Kubo was already well known among football scouts as one with a great future ahead. Immediately he was plucked from the talent factory in Japan,he was nicknamed ' the Japanese Messi' on the fact that the Argentine also came through the La Masia ranks. Recently, Kubo gave some credit to the comparisons between him and Leo, scoring six goals in a single game. In his first season in Europe, he was awarded the most valuable player at a youth tournament in Belgium. A pint sized, left footed forward blessed with the ability to run with the ball as though magnetized to his feet, Kubo has a knack of scoring regularly. He also has a fluent command of Spanish and already has a marketing contract with an agency in Tokyo. If all goes according to plan, Kubo could line up for Japan in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Early days yet but with so much talent, stranger things have happened in football. One thing is clear, the world is watching Kubo closely.
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