• Kyodo


Japan prodigy Takefusa Kubo said Monday he was seeking more playing time as he left Villarreal after half a season and joined Getafe on another loan deal this month from Spanish giant Real Madrid.

“I’m young and need more playing time, and want to feel like I’m a soccer player,” the 19-year-old midfielder said during an online news conference. “The first thing is to help the team achieve its target. That will also help me grow as a player.”

Kubo made an instant impact for Getafe in their 3-1 away win at Elche on Jan. 11, coming off the bench in the 65th minute before forcing the opposing keeper into a save from inside the box just four minutes later with Jaime Mata tapping in the rebound for a 2-1 lead.

The third goal late in the game also arrived after Kubo’s cross from the right drew a foul inside the box, with Angel Rodriguez converting the penalty.

“I chose Getafe as they showed more interest in me (than other teams),” Kubo said, adding his debut performance for Getafe, currently placed 13th in the Spanish top flight, gave him “confidence” but “the next game is more important.”

Kubo found playing time hard to come by under Villarreal manager Unai Emery, making just two starts in 13 league appearances without scoring a goal.

The left-footed playmaker was given chances in the Europa League, with the youngster starting all five group-stage games and scoring one goal, but he never won a regular role and was often deployed in an unfamiliar role on the left side of the pitch.

Kubo joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 and spent last season on loan at Mallorca, where he scored and assisted four times each in 35 league games as they were eventually relegated.

Getafe, the former home of Japan’s Gaku Shibasaki who currently plies his trade for second-tier Leganes, finished eighth last season.

Kubo played for Barcelona’s youth teams before returning to Japan where he played for FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos. He was the second-youngest player to debut for Japan’s national team at 18 years and 5 days, and is expected to be a key figure at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

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