Real Madrid: Kubo's future up in the air
The futures of Luka Modric and Martin Odegaard are likely to have a particularly significant bearing on where Takefusa Kubo is at next season.
The coming months will determine where Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo, who is currently on a season-long loan at Real Mallorca, plays his football next term.
Modric, Odegaard likely to impact on Kubo future
AS understands that nothing has been decided yet and much will depend on the other summer business that Madrid do, in terms of both loan and permanent deals. Two issues that will have a particularly significant bearing are the future of Luka Modric at the Bernabéu, and whether or not Martin Odegaard ends up returning to Madrid halfway through his two-year loan at Real Sociedad.
The most logical option for next season - one Kubo is likely to oppose - is to find the 18-year-old a loan move to a LaLiga club who play a brand of football that suits his characteristics and, preferably, are also competing in Europe.
2019/20 Madrid stay scuppered by non-EU-player quota
Last summer, there was little scope for Kubo to stay at Madrid. The Japan international completed pre-season with the seniors and made the odd appearance for Castilla, the club's 'B' team, but LaLiga restrictions on non-European Union players (Madrid's quota of three had already been filled), meant he would have struggled to see much action in Primera División.
And with Mallorca, Real Valladolid and Leganés all keen to take Kubo on loan, the decision was made to send him out to get first-team experience.
Kubo impressing in Mallorca's fight to stay in LaLiga
At Mallorca, Kubo is getting the chance to cut his teeth in LaLiga, in an environment that will hardly be familiar to him. Currently second from bottom, Los Bermellones are in a dogfight to avoid relegation - and it is a challenge the teenager hasn't shied away from. With three goals and three assists to his name, he is ninth in the league standings for attempted dribbles (74), 10th in fouls won (46), 27th in tackles won (16), 29th in dangerous passes (20), 30th in interceptions (16), 31st in successful crosses (seven) and 33 in attempts on goal (28).
Kubo's numbers are indicative of a player who has remained true to his attacking style but, at the same time, is rolling up his sleeves defensively. He's certainly staking his claim for a place back at Real Madrid, but his non-EU status doesn't help his cause (and he can only apply for Spanish nationality after 10 years of continuous residence in the country).
He isn't throwing in the towel, though: he has total faith in his potential and is well aware of the impact that an impressive end to the season will have on his future beyond the summer - particularly with Mallorca still to visit the Bernabéu in April.
Olympics in Tokyo on the horizon
Another significant question is whether or not Kubo is to represent Japan at the Olympics. He has been named on the Samurai Blue's preliminary list for Tokyo 2020 and, given his star status in the country, there is excitement among the Japanese over his potential participation in a home Games. Madrid and the coronavirus will have the final say, but Kubo is eager to become an Olympian, and would only pass up the opportunity if he gets the call from Zidane.
If Madrid want Kubo to join their pre-season tour in the summer - in the process handing him a stage on which to earn his spot at Los Blancos next term - he won't go to the Olympics. If he is loaned out, on the other hand, his new club will have to accept his involvement in the Games.
With the crunch period of the season ahead, Real Madrid's 2020/21 squad planning still pending and the Olympics also a factor, Kubo's future remains very much up in the air.