According to a report by Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal of the Athletic, FC Cincinnati is on the verge of completing a deal with Belgian club KAA Gent to acquire Japanese international striker Yuya Kubo. It is expected that Kubo will be signed by FCC to a designated player contract, and that the 26 year-old striker is expected to travel to Cincinnati later this week to finalize the deal. Outlined by Major League Soccer’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, this means Kubo would make at least $565,000 during the 2020 season.
Kubo has spent the past four seasons with KAA Gent, which currently sits in third place in the Belgian First Division A table. During his time with KAA Gent, Kubo has scored 25 goals while adding six assists. During the 2018-19 season, Kubo was loaned to German Bundesliga side Nurnberg. However, Kubo could not replicate the success he had with KAA Gent, only scoring one goal in 22 Bundesliga appearances. Prior to joining KAA Gent, Kubo spent four years with Young Boys of the Swiss League, the former club of FCC midfielder Leonardo Bertone. Kubo and Bertone were teammates at Young Boys from 2014-2016.
Additionally, Kubo has represented Japan at the international level. He has 13 caps with the Japanese national team, including six appearances and two goals during 2018 World Cup qualifying. Kubo has also made 37 appearances for the Japanese U16-U23 national teams, where he has scored 24 goals.
The signing of Kubo would mark the first designated player signing under current FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp. It has also been reported that FCC is expected to fill all three DP slots within the next two transfer windows, while also unloading striker Fanendo Adi. If Adi is offloaded, FCC will attempt to add a third DP to replace him, likely in the summer. Only time will tell if the first designated player signing by Nijkamp turns out to be better than the first designated player signing made in club history.
Stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we break down what this means for FC Cincinnati, as well as any other news that may break about new trades or player signings throughout the MLS off-season.