REAL MADRID

"The whole Kubo episode was the biggest mistake Barcelona have made in many years..."

Coaching staff at La Masia envisgaed Takefusa Kubo defining an era at the club. Now they are saddened to see the promising Japanese player at Real Madrid.

The day that Takefusa Kubo, Take, had to leave La Masia in tears following FIFA's decision to punish Barcelona their lack of transparency in dealing with minors was an authentic drama. Take was the most-loved boy in Sant Joan D'espí for every reason possible. He was a charming, polite young boy who was motivated and sociable. In next to no time after arriving from Japan, he had learned to speak Spanish and Catalan and in many ways, he was seen as the mascot at Barcelona's academy residence. Then there were abilities out on the football pitch...

All of the coaching staff who had come into contact with Take at Barça's youth academy concurred that the teenager was destined for the first team. The youngster was blessed with an innate talent but on top of that, had the discipline and work ethic that the Japanese are known for.

When he had to leave La Masia, along with his brother who played  for FCB Escola, everyone took it for granted that one day he'd be back. But when the time came when Barça could bring him back, they decided not to. They thought he was too expensive.

In other times, Joan Vilà, the man who guided Xavi and Carles Puyol through the youth ranks and into the senior side, would have had something to say about taking the young Japanese player back. But Vilà is no longer at Barça and his replacement, Pep Segura, ignored the petitions of Kubo's agents to get the youngster reinstated in La Masia. He considered the operation would cost too much money. Maybe costs were higher than expected but let's not forget the millions Barça spent on Ilaix Moriba's new contract and even worse, the money spent on unknown Dutch players for the B team - including the son of Frenkie de Jong's agent... The cherry on the cake came on Friday when Kashima Antlers confirmed that Barça had reached an initial agreement for another Japanese player - 20-year-old Hiroki Abe. The general consensus within the Barça camp is that: "The whole Kubo episode has been Barça's biggest mistake in a long, long time".

Takefusa Kubo in training with Real Madrid in Montreal last week

Abe hasn't come through the system like Take did

Coaching staff shake their heads in disbelief with how a promising talent like Take was allowed to escape - especially to the club's main rivals, Real Madrid. However good Hiroki Abe turns out to be, he will always be at a disadvantage in that he didn't come up through a system which is a far cry from what it once was. Among those who knew Kubo at La Masia, losing him signals a shift away from the traditional policy concerning Barça's youth programme...