Real Madrid have beaten Barcelona to the signing of Japanese teenager Takefusa Kubo, who has joined the club from FC Tokyo for a reported fee in the region of €2 million (£1.8 million).
Los Blancos announced the youngster's arrival via the club's official website.
ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan referred to the interest shown by rivals Barca and Paris Saint-Germain and provided details of the transfer:
Attacking midfielder Kubo, 18, previously spent three years in Barca's La Masia academy and has earned the nickname "Japanese Messi," per ESPN, due to playing in a style similar to that of Blaugrana talisman Lionel.
Real Madrid said about their new signing: "The top level of the Madridista academy are set to get their hands on one of the most promising youngsters in world football. A technically gifted and hugely talented attacking midfielder, he possesses wonderful vision, quick feet and has an eye for goal."
Goal recently posted footage of the starlet in scoring action for FC Tokyo, whom he joined in 2015 after leaving Catalonia:
Kubo made his senior debut for Japan as a substitute during their 2-0 win against El Salvador earlier in June.
Jose Felix Diaz and Miguel Angel Lara of Marca reported Barcelona wanted to sign the player in 2015, and it was their pursuit of Kubo and other underage players that led to the club's transfer suspension.
Real will send the player to their Castilla squad, and Sport's Sam Marsden added other sporting reasons influenced his decision:
Kubo represents a young and valuable marketing tool to Japanese audiences, but his previous links to Barcelona and his early professional career with FC Tokyo hint at real promise.
It's likely to be some time before the player has a first-team impact in Madrid—if any—though manager Zinedine Zidane has shown he's willing to use young players like Vinicius Junior, 18, and Federico Valverde, 20.
Kubo scored five times and recorded four assists in 16 appearances for FC Tokyo this season, signing off with a streak of four goals in his last four J1 League games for the club.