I’m starting to think that, every week, the stuff I write about Takefusa Kubo is not all that different from the stuff that I have written in previous editions of this series. It’s weird because it leaves me with the same words as the article I had written a week earlier. If Kubo (and his minutes) stays this inconsistent throughout the season, then I might have to change the way I write to make it seem interesting!
This week wasn’t a whole lot different from what we’ve already seen from Kubo’s performances a few weeks prior. There have been weeks in which he had one good performance/good cameo, coupled with one bad performance/short cameo. Either that, or one bad performance and one short cameo/one 30-something-minute cameo in which he wasn’t good. This week, it was the latter.
Kubo, surprisingly, started in a league game, away at Betis. Kubo had a similar role to the one against Elche. He was on the right and drifted inward sometimes. Problem was, against Elche, he was good. Against Betis, he, well, wasn’t. In the Elche game, it showed Kubo as the player he is, a young, talented behemoth that is fighting for his place in the starting XI.
Against Real Betis, however, Kubo looked like a complete opposite. It showed us a complacent side of an already proven player; someone who has assumed the spot to be his and his alone, and who isn’t really doing anything to even be involved, because, according to him, it’s his spot, you know? That version of Kubo doesn’t even exist yet (and hopefully, never does), but, somehow, it was there at the Benito Villamarín.
He was involved at first, but his influence went down heavily as the game went on. A few good passes here and there doesn’t make a good performance. Fight, will, hunger and efficiency do, none of which were there that night, and it was difficult to see.
Here are his stats from the game:
- one key pass
- one shot-creating action
- one dribble completed
- 25 touches (in 57 minutes. It was less than the 45 minutes he played against Elche, where he had 27)
- three recoveries, two passes into the attacking third, one pass into the penalty area, one interception
A few days later, Villarreal played Leioa, a Spanish side from Segunda B, coming up against The Yellow Submarine. Kubo didn’t start this game. Which, on paper, didn’t make the slightest bit of sense, but once you looked at the pitch, you’d think the exact opposite. No matter the opponent. No matter how Kubo plays against this humble club, it wouldn’t have been a smart decision to start him on a pitch like this. I know he doesn’t really play much, and he should get minutes in games like this, but the condition of the pitch matters a lot, and that’s what cost Kubo the 60 minutes of the game. But yeah, he did play around 30 minutes on the right-wing, when Villarreal were already 4-0 up. He came on to see out the game, didn’t really do anything special. The game ended 6-0, he had a couple of good touches, a couple of good passes. You know, the usual.
Regarding him not getting more minutes against this team, on this pitch, there’s nothing to panic about, (even though Real Madrid fans were already panicking about Kubo’s role of an occasional starter under Emery at such a talented team, and rightly so) Villarreal will probably make a deep run in the Copa Del Rey this season, and Kubo should get a few starts when the time comes.
Hopefully, by then, it’s not too late. Hopefully, Kubo starts performing consistently till then and Real Madrid don’t terminate the loan deal. All we can do is hope. It just stings when you’re so excited to watch a young player of Kubo’s calibre, only to see him perform the way he is performing. And to see that glimpses of his true potential are being witnessed so sporadically, it makes it a little worse. I’m a pretty hopeful person, though. And you never know, maybe Emery is able to finally unearth the best of Kubo before Perez makes a move. Maybe not. Time will tell.
Editor’s note: There’s a chance that Kubo’s fate at Villarreal in the end has nothing to do with his play time or his performance. With Iborra out for the season, Villarreal needs a defensive midfielder. Santi Caseres has his loan to Club America ending at the end of this month, but in order for him to rejoin the first team the club will- as I understand it- have to open up a non-EU roster spot. Kubo would likely be the easiest slot to open back up if an agreement could be reached with Real Madrid to cancel his loan.