After Son Heung-min, another rejection… Gubo pushes to join ‘Ronaldo’s team’

Al Nasr, the Saudi Arabian professional league where Cristiano Ronaldo plays, has shown interest in Takefusa Kubo, but he has decided to stay in Europe.

The Japanese edition of Goal.com reported on Nov. 22 that Kubo will not be joining the club in the winter transfer window despite interest from the Saudis.

“Kubo has no intention of leaving this winter,” the publication quoted Spanish outlet Relevo as saying, “Kubo received a big offer from Saudi Arabia this winter, but he has no intention of leaving the team during the season. However, more offers from Europe are expected in the summer. A transfer fee of 30 million euros (about $43.8 billion) seems reasonable.”

On July 17, Relevo reported that Saudi Arabia’s Al Nasr had shown a keen interest in Kubo, who is an ace for Japan’s national soccer team and a star performer for Real Sociedad.

“Al Nasr are interested in Gubo,” the outlet said in a report on the transfer market. “Al Nasr are trying to sign Gubo through the work of several sources, although no negotiations have progressed to date.

“In any case, Gubo wants to stay in Europe. He will remain at Real Sociedad for the rest of the season,” he added, confirming the player’s intention to stay in Europe.

Originally from Japan, Kubo joined Barcelona’s youth team in 2011 at the age of 10, where he trained until 2015. He is known for his close friendship with Lee Kang-in, who came through the Valencia academy at the same time.

However, Kubo chose to return to Japan after FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) criticized Barcelona’s youth recruitment and punished the club.

At the time, FIFA deemed that Barcelona had violated the rule against transferring players under the age of 18 to foreign clubs and banned the youngsters from training and matches. Instead, Gubo opted to join FC Tokyo in Japan, where he made his J-League debut.

After a successful stint in the J-League, Gubo was given the opportunity to move to Barcelona’s rivals, Real. In 2019, Real’s second team, Castilla, snapped him up, and he was back in the Spanish game.

Surviving at Real wasn’t easy. At the time, Real had a number of global superstars like Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, as well as talented Brazilian prospects like Hodrigo and Vinicius Junior, so there were few opportunities for Gubo to return.

As he struggled to break into the first team, Gubo looked for opportunities to play on loan. He spent time on loan at Villarreal, Mallorca, and Getafe, and during his second spell at Mallorca, he played alongside Lee Kang-in, who is now at Paris Saint-Germain.

Last summer, he chose to part ways with Real by making a permanent move to Real Sociedad. Guevo has flourished at Sociedad. In 35 league appearances last season, he scored nine goals and provided four assists as the team’s key ace. He was also recognized by the fans when he was named the Sociedad Player of the Year.

Gubo is leading the team’s offense in the 2023-2024 season in Spanish La Liga with six goals and three assists and one assist in the UEFA Champions League. The team is cruising to a sixth-place finish in the league and a spot in the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Kubo is currently competing at the ongoing Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar. Japan won its first match against Vietnam 4-2 on Nov. 14 at the Altumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Kubo came off the bench to assist Ayase Ueda’s fourth goal in the 40th minute.

However, Gubo started the second game against Iraq on Sept. 19 at the Education City Stadium in Alayan, but was ineffective, committing 21 turnovers and was subbed off 16 minutes early in the second half. The team lost 1-2 and suffered its first humiliation by Iraq in 40 years.

Japan will return to the Altumama Stadium on Sept. 24 for a third match against Shin Tae-yong’s Indonesia. Even if Japan wins the match, they will not be able to take over the top spot in the group and will need to catch Indonesia, who have the same number of points, to secure second place.

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