Who is Takefusa Kubo? Skillful Liverpool-linked winger with Real Madrid and Barcelona past

Takefusa Kubo of Real Sociedad during the Spanish Copa del Rey  match between Real Sociedad v Real Mallorca at the Reale Arena Stadium on February 27, 2024 in San Sebastian Spain

Liverpool is likely to be linked with an awful lot of wingers this summer. Indeed, the transfer rumor mill has already ground into gear, most recently throwing out the name Takefusa Kubo.

For one thing, there's continued uncertainty surrounding the future of Mohamed Salah. While it seems that Liverpool expects to have him around next season, and intends to open talks over a possible new contract, it does not change the fact that he turns 32 next month.

Meanwhile, it's thought that Arne Slot will be the one chosen to replace Jürgen Klopp. The Feyenoord manager has previously confessed his love of wingers, and his current crop are generally young, pacey and skillful.

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Enter Kubo. The 22-year-old Japan international plies his trade at Real Sociedad, and 'Sam C Reports', citing a source, claims Liverpool holds an interest. He further suggests that there is a release clause set at $65m (£51m/€60m).

It's a tentative link, admittedly, but who exactly is Kubo, and would a transfer to Liverpool make any sense? He has notched seven goals and three assists in 26 La Liga outings this season, having recorded nine goals and seven assists in the previous campaign.

Those don't immediately scream 'big-money move to Liverpool'. And Kubo would certainly come with some question marks. But it's worth noting that his expected assists are in the 83rd percentile of wingers around Europe's top five leagues over the last year (FBref), so any underwhelming returns on that front are down to profligate teammates.

But it's the progressive carries and successful take-ons data where Kubo really stands out. Since his days in the famed Barcelona academy, this has been his calling card, earning him the moniker of the 'Japanese Messi' at one stage.

Interestingly, Kubo is one of a select group to have been on the books at both Barcelona and Real Madrid. He left Barcelona to return to his native Japan with FC Tokyo, but from there, Real Madrid swooped to bring him back to Spain.

His time at Real Madrid was marked by a succession of loans, and he has the unusual distinction of representing Spain's big two without actually making a senior appearance for either. Eventually, he made a permanent move to Real Sociedad in 2022.

Still so young, Kubo has already shouldered a lot of expectations, and has emerged out the other side as one of the brightest La Liga talents. He's also made 34 appearances for the Japan national side. says: Liverpool wouldn't want to become the next club to prove too big a leap for Kubo, after Barcelona and Real Madrid. His massive potential is still clear for all to see, and he's starting to come good on it, but you wonder whether an Anfield switch this summer might be just a little too soon.

On the other hand, he has a lot of the attributes Slot likes in a winger, and he's in the age range where the returning Michael Edwards likes to make signings. The link might not be the most reliable, but Kubo is one to keep an eye on all the same.