Yuya Kubo is 5 foot 10 and can play any position along the front line. He has 11 caps with the Japanese national team and Europa League experience. His peak value was in the 2017-18 season, when he scored 11 goals in 42 appearances across all competitions playing for KAA Gent. More recently, his form has dipped as he has struggled for fitness and playing opportunities.
When I watch Kubo play, I see a guy that is full of confidence. His tape is filled with clips of him running at defenders, trying to split double teams, and showcasing a variety of flicks and tricks. This confidence translates in front of net, where he often unleashes a one-touch shot even when there is space for two or shoots through extremely tight windows. He scores a lot of goals from tight angles or through multiple defenders.
Kubo is quick, not fast, and has good feet. He is an adequate dribbler, though the ball does not seem glued to his feet as it does with the elite dribblers in the league. Despite all this, his quick feet allow him to get multiple touches on the ball in stride.
Kubo is also very good striking the ball with both feet. He has a powerful right foot that puts massive texture on his shots and crosses and an accurate left foot. He also displays good vision and the ability to pass the ball with the proper weight almost every time and with either foot.
Kubo’s best characteristic is his near-elite balance. Defenders find it very difficult to put him off a run. This balance, along with his quickness, make up for his average dribbling by allowing him to push the ball past defenders, shrug off a challenge, and still have the option to shoot or pass.
Where Will He Play?
Does he fit in the Dutch 4-3-3 that we expect FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans to employ? He is not a traditional center forward and is more comfortable running into space off a defender’s shoulder than playing back to goal. For this reason, I would expect him to play right-wing, as he does for the Japanese national team when on international duty. He has the pace and ability to beat a defender to the byline for a cross and the confidence and left foot to cut in for a shot or pass. He could also play as a second striker.
My player comp for him is Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur. He is not nearly as talented as the Englishman, but they’re stylistically similar. Like Alli, Kubo is more likely to score running through on goal, with a late run into the box, or by flicking the ball past a defender to create space for a shot than directly from a cross or by turning a defender.
If the FC Cincinnati front office signs Kubo, did they score big? Transfermarket values him at $2.28 million and had him valued at double that just one year ago, so he is definitely a depressed asset. If he rounds back into form the club could get a nice return on investment. Furthermore, with the possible departure of Emmanuel Ledesma, FCC has a need at right-wing. Is he the No. 9 to replace Fanendo Adi? I don’t think so. But perhaps he can be a key part of the attack coming in off the right wing.
Brad Gough is the former head coach of the Cincinnati Lady Saints and Cincinnati Christian University, and a former Director of Coaching for Northern Kentucky Soccer Academy.