The roughly four-month countdown to the end of FC Tokyo midfielder Takefusa Kubo's J. League career is ticking.

When it hits zero, which will likely be soon after his 18th birthday on June 4, the player who many believe can lead Japan to a podium finish at Tokyo 2020 — and perhaps, several years down the line, at a World Cup — will once again be able to play in Europe.

Kubo's expected return to the Old Continent will come roughly 4½ years since his FIFA-decreed exile from Barcelona's famed La Masia youth academy, where he had risen through the ranks and scored at will after joining at 10 years old.