They do say actions speak louder than words.
And while Unai Emery has often raved about the talents of Takefusa Kubo, comparing the Japanese sensation to a Spanish football legend, the winger’s lack of game time at Villarreal tells its own story.
“Kubo has similar characteristics to David Silva,” Emery said two weeks ago, comparing the Real Madrid loanee with another diminutive playmaker with an eye for a defence-splitting pass.
Since comparing the 19-year-old attacker to the 2010 World Cup winner, however, Kubo has played a grand total of five minutes of football in La Liga.
In Saturday’s 1-1 draw with his parent club, the most exciting Asian attacker to emerge since Son Heung-min rose from the bench with just seconds remaining – the briefest of cameos.
And that has been the story of his Villarreal career – a few minutes here, a few minutes there, but never a sustained run of games in Emery’s starting XI.
After shining on loan at Real Mallorca, a player labelled an “immense talent” by none other than Andres Iniesta during his brief spell in Barcelona’s La Masia academy was expected to be the creative lynchpin of a Villareal team dreaming of Champions League football again after a fine start under Emery.
And, with fellow youngster Yeremi Pino ahead of him in the pecking order, El Periodico Mediterraneo reports Kubo has his heart set on bringing a premature end to his spell on the Castellon coast during the January transfer window.
That may open the door, then, for a Celtic side that showed an interest in the Real Madrid wonderkid in the summer (AS).
Neil Lennon’s directionless Hoops appear to have 99 problems these days, with a lack of cutting edge just one. Kubo’s Silva-esque qualities would undoubtedly help in that regard, while his tendency to drift in from the right could lay the foundations for a thrilling partnership with an overlapping Jeremie Frimpong.
The question is, could Celtic guarantee Kubo the first team football he missed out on during a wasted half-season at Villarreal?
James Forrest will be back before long while, in Ryan Christie, Celtic already have one left-footed playmaker at their disposal.
But Kubo is the sort of player who can produce something out of nothing. And a Celtic side that has tasted success in only two of its past eight games could surely find a place for a man who shares Silva’s match-winning qualities.