• Kyodo

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Japan international Takefusa Kubo will leave Spanish La Liga club Villarreal, head coach Unai Emery confirmed Saturday.

Although the 19-year-old only joined the club this season, he has seen his playing time decrease. Negotiations for his transfer are currently under way, with league rival Getafe a strong candidate to take in the midfielder.

Kubo joined Spanish giant Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 and spent last season on loan with Mallorca, who have since been relegated. Villarreal was seen as a big step up for the youngster, but he has not found favor with Emery.

With media speculation heating up about Kubo’s departure, Emery said he spoke directly with the player.

“I asked whether he wanted to stay or go, and he said that with little playing time he would like to move on,” said the coach, who added that people handling the negotiations for Kubo were seeking the youngster’s next team.

Getafe, the former home of Japan’s Gaku Shibasaki, is a mid-sized club with a history of taking in young players on loan from Real Madrid.

Kubo was nurtured as a youth player by Spanish powerhouse Barcelona before returning to Japan, where he played for Yokohama F. Marinos and FC Tokyo. The second-youngest player to debut for Japan’s national team at 18 years and 5 days, Kubo is expected to be a central figure at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

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