Unai Emery has defended his refusal to leave Takefusa Kubo out of the Villarreal line-up, insisting he needs to earn a spot contrary to popular belief.
Kubo joined Villarreal on loan from Real Madrid for this season on the back of an impressive maiden campaign in LaLiga with Mallorca, despite the club’s relegation.
The prospect of Europa League football and to play regularly for a competitive outfit was seen as a good next step for the 19-year-old. Two months since leaving Madrid again, however, he hasn’t started one game.
Emery, who replaced Javier Calleja as head coach for this season, has restricted ‘Take’ to 54 minutes of football. He may have featured in all five of Villarreal’s league games, but they were all late substitute appearances.
Reports in the Spanish press state the Japanese winger’s lack of action has frustrated parent club Real Madrid.
“Kubo is a great kid, he wants to grow up, and he wants to do it,” Emery told Diario AS.
“He is aware that he has a challenge to overcome, that of being the first Japanese player to reach the top level, and there are a lot of people who want that to be the case and want to speed up the process.
“But this acceleration is not good, he must adapt and develop to be competitive in all options and positions. He can play in three positions, the right-winger position is the one that suits him best, but there is a lot of competition.
“In the center, he works to improve, and on the left, he has to grow more so we are in this process. I understand the noise from the media, he’s a star off the pitch, but he has to be one on the pitch.”
Emery added on Kubo: “Our obligation is to do it in the best possible way and to take care of him so that he can achieve this goal.
“I have not told any player that he is guaranteed to play, or that we will be champions by counting on him, it is something that I would not do.
“To achieve a goal, it’s everyone’s business, the whole team, not a single player as good as he is.”
Despite his predicament at Villarreal, Kubo remains one of the most sought after youngsters on FIFA 21.