Soccer / J. League

FC Tokyo’s Takefusa Kubo joins Yokohama F. Marinos in loan deal

Kyodo

The teenage midfielder once dubbed the “Japanese Messi” will move from FC Tokyo to Yokohama F. Marinos in a loan deal announced Thursday.

In a post on the club website, Marinos said they had reached an agreement to bring 17-year-old Takefusa Kubo to Nissan Stadium until the end of the year.

The youngster earned comparisons to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi after being invited to join FC Barcelona’s youth academy at age 9.

Following three seasons in the Barcelona program, he returned to Japan after the Spanish giants were hit by a transfer ban for breaching FIFA rules on the recruitment of underage players from overseas.

Kubo played four league and six cup games for FC Tokyo’s senior side this season. In March, he became the youngest goalscorer in the history of Japan’s league cup, netting the winner in a 1-0 victory over Albirex Niigata.

“Dribbling, shooting and reading the game are my strengths. I’ll do everything in my power to help the team reach its goals,” Kubo said.

Despite racking up a number of eye-catching wins, Marinos are currently languishing in 14th place, just one point above the relegation zone, in their first season under former Australia national team manager Ange Postecoglou.