'Japanese Messi' Takefusa Kubo signs for FC Tokyo from Barcelona
TOKYO -- Japanese club FC Tokyo have signed 13-year-old prospect Takefusa Kubo from Barcelona.
Kubo, who earned the nickname the 'Japanese Messi', signed with Barcelona in 2011 to train at La Masia academy but FIFA ruled that the Spanish club violated international transfer regulations over the signing of young players, forcing the teenager to return home.
After being handed a 14-month transfer ban, Barcelona are now unable to recruit any new players until the 2016 January window while Kubo, who could rejoin the club when he is 18, has been training with Tokyo's junior youth team since April.
The J.League title challengers have high expectations for him as Tokyo club president Naoki Ogane said: "We hope in the future, he becomes a player who can carry the Japan national team or the Olympic team."
Arsenal and Manchester City were also reported to be among Europe's big clubs interested in Kubo, who was recently selected for Japan's under-15 team.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.