Shohei Ohtani, who has become a major league baseball player, is world famous in the baseball world, but there are also players in the soccer world who are gaining worldwide recognition.
Until just 30 years ago, the Japanese were perceived as “poor” at the sport of soccer.
In fact, in Italy, the word “japonese” meant “a poor soccer player.
However, time has passed, and in 2023, many players are active in the top leagues in Europe.
In this article, we would like to explain such “Japanese players who are active in European soccer.
Takehide Kubo (Real Sociedad)
Born on June 4, 2001, Kubo Takehide is one of the most successful soccer players in Japan.
He joined the Barcelona organization in 2011 when he was in the fourth grade and started scoring and assisting a lot.
He was expected to be promoted to Barcelona’s first team, but due to a violation by Barcelona regarding the acquisition and registration of foreign players under the age of 18, Kubo was unable to play in official games.
Forced to return to Japan, Kubo played for FC Tokyo’s top team and Yokohama F Marinos’ top team before moving back to Europe at the age of 18.
He signed a contract with Real Madrid, a rival club of Barcelona, where he used to play.
Kubo was on loan for three seasons because Real Madrid, the world’s best club, would not allow him to play in their games.
Although he never made it back to Real Madrid’s first team, he made the move to Real Sociedad at the age of 21, a club that had been looking to acquire him for several years.
The 2022-2023 season was his breakthrough season, as he led Real Madrid to a fourth-place finish in the league and a spot in the Champions League for the first time in a decade. (9 goals and 6 assists in official games)
Although he is not a tall player, he is a left-handed player with excellent technique, and his game is reminiscent of Messi’s. Last year, he started to show his defensive ability and determination.
His defensive and decision-making abilities have also improved in the last year, and he is already on par with the world’s top stars in terms of ability.
At the age of 22, he is off to a good start this season, scoring once in the opening game and assisting once in the second. (The team started the season with three consecutive draws and a difficult start.)
Kubo has already become a well-known player in Europe, and with his first appearance in the CL coming up, he is sure to become even more so.
Many fans hope that Kubo will return to Barcelona one day and play there again.
It will be interesting to see if this dream will come true in the future.
Kaoru Mitate (Brighton)
It is no exaggeration to say that Kaoru Misuzu of Brighton is a Japanese player who has surpassed Kubo in terms of both ability and name recognition.
Playing regularly in every game for a club in the Premier League, the “best league in the world,” is an achievement in itself, but in just one season, Kaoru Misuzumi has become one of the league’s leading WG players.
He was a sub at the beginning of the season, but when a change in coaching led to his selection as a starter, he scored 10 goals and provided 7 assists.
His overwhelming dribbling skills, as he dodges one world-class defender after another, are a sight to behold.
His basic skills and wide field of vision make him a dribbler, but not an egoist, and he has earned the trust of Brighton coach De Zerbi.
Brighton had never been a powerhouse before, but last season they finished 6th and qualified for the EL (Europa League).
With the acquisition of several promising players this summer, the team is seriously aiming for a top-four finish this season. (A top-four finish would qualify them for next season’s CL.)
There is a possibility that he will move to a mega club like Manchester City or Arsenal in the near future, and along with Kubo, he will continue to be an icon in Japan.
Many highly talented players such as Takehiro Tomiyasu and Koh Itakura
Although not as popular as the aforementioned Kubo and Mitate, Takehiro Tomiyasu, who plays for Arsenal, who finished second in the Premier League last season, is another well-known player in Europe.
Although he is often benched due to injuries, he is good enough to be a starter even for the powerful Arsenal.
He has the utility to play both CB and SB, and is expected to be the new leader of the Japanese national team’s defensive line due to his high physical ability and technique.
If he can play continuously for 2-3 years without injury, he could be recognized as a world-class defender.
Itakura Koh, who plays for Borussia MG in the Bundesliga, is also making his presence felt in Europe, with Napoli, the reigning Serie A champions, expressing interest in acquiring him this summer.
Japanese players such as Daichi Kamata at Lazio and Wataru Endo at Liverpool are already popular in Europe.
In this article, we have explained about “Japanese players who are active in European soccer.
Kanehide Kubo of Real Sociedad and Kaoru Mitoshi of Brighton are becoming world-famous players.
Other players are also steadily making their presence felt in Europe, so if you like European soccer, why not pay attention to the activities of Japanese players?