As the whirlwind transfer market kicks into high gear and Europe’s top flight leagues begin a new season next month, one player from Asia has caught the eye of the global football community over the past few weeks.

That player’s name is Takefusa Kubo, a Japanese prodigy that now wears Real Madrid’s colors following a free transfer from FC Tokyo.

And he’s just 18 years old.

The image of a young Lionel Messi quickly comes to mind, and observers were quick to point out how the Japanese attacking midfielder plays like the living legend.

The two share something in common: both spent a youth career with FC Barcelona.

But while Messi pursued a senior career -- an exceptionally successful one -- with Barca, Kubo ended up with the Catalan side’s biggest rivals.

Not Kubo’s fault, though, as Barcelona reportedly erred in checking the youngster’s contract with FC Tokyo, and Madrid were quick to snatch Kubo after realizing his contract with the Japanese club had expired.

Returning head coach Zinedine Zidane would be more than pleased to have Kubo in his fold.

Though listed among the Los Blancos youth or Castilla team, Kubo has already shined in a number of pre-season games with the senior team, including against Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich.

No doubt Zidane will seriously consider fielding Kubo more often in the first team after the Japanese youngster continued to impress with his technical skills, acumen, intelligence and maturity beyond his age.

Even former Barca greats like Andres Iniesta, who’s now with Vissel Kobe in Japan and has played against Kubo, only has flattering things to say about the mercurial 5’8” midfielder.

“He is an impressive talent and has a great future ahead of him. He is a young player who is gifted enough to earn a spot at one of the biggest clubs in the world,” Iniesta told Spanish sports daily Marca.

Time will tell if Kubo does live up to expectations as the “Japanese Messi,” but the way it looks so far, no one will be missing Cristiano Ronaldo after all.