€15 million Barcelona man Junior Firpo completes Leeds United move
06 Jul 2021 11:02 am, by YorkshireSquare
It’s only three years ago since Leeds United fans had to spend their summers trying to get excited about the loan signings of Lewis Baker and Izzy Brown. But after three seasons with Marcelo Bielsa at the helm Leeds United’s stock is on the rise. With Premier League survival achieved playing exciting, adventurous football Leeds United are a tantalising prospect for any player. Junior Firpo has been on the clubs radar as their potential new left back for some time, the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth confirming the Barcelona player was on Victor Orta's summer shopping list under the “difficult to do” column. But get it done he has, with Firpo putting pen to paper on a 4 year deal for a fee reported to be in the region of £12.9 million paid over two installments. He is expected to wear the No 3 shirt vacated by Barry Douglas and will ease into the squad with a tripple training session, welcome to Murderball Junior!
With both Napoli and AC Milan sniffing around it’s quite a coup for Leeds to have come away with Firpo’s signature, especially since the Rossoneri thought they were favourites to land the left backs signature. It highlights Leeds United’s ambition and is a sign of their intent going to their second season back in the top-flight. Barcelona are looking to balance the books somewhat this summer following the collapse of the European Super League and all the revenue they expected from it. With Firpo behind world class Jordi Alba in the pecking order it seems like a good way to cash in. That said, at €15 million this feels like it could be another bargain of Raphinha levels! With fans worried we’d missed out on other potential targets such as Romain Perraud, Victor had bigger and better deals within his sights.
Left back was certainly an area of concern last season. With Stuart Dallas filling in anywhere and everywhere it was left to Gjanni Alioski to fill in. Whilst Alioski played well for the most part, it is an area Leeds needed to improve in if they are to progress and Firpo certainly fills the brief. Born in the Dominican Republic, Firpo moved to Spain at the age of six, joining the Real Betis youth setup in 2014. He made his La Liga debut in February 2018 against Deportivo de La Coruña, becoming the first Dominican Republic born player to play in the Spanish top-flight. He went on to make 38 appearances for Betis scoring 5 goals before move to Barcelona in August 2019 worth €18 million plus €12 million in potential add-ons.
He made his Barcelona debut in the second game of the 2019-2020 season in a 5-2 victory against former club Betis, scoring his first goal for the club the next month in a 2-0 victory over Getafe. Chances have been limited at the Camp Nou due to the form of Jordi Alba with the 24-year-old limited to 24 appearances and 2 goals over the past two seasons. But he remains an exciting prospect and with a £45million release fee on his head whilst at Betis, it’s clear how much they valued him. A move to Leeds will give him the chance of regular football, a chance to give his career a kick start and fulfil his potential. Having rejected the possibility of Champions League football at AC Milan it’s clear there is something about the Leeds United project and Marcelo Bielsa that excites him.
Firpo is an attacking full back who can also play on the left wing. He likes to carry the ball and drives at the opposition penalty area with speed, confident enough on his weaker right foot to cut infield and cause damage. Using his athleticism and balance he takes players out of the game and opens up space for others, much in the same way as our Brazilian sensation Raphinha did to teams last season. He is expert at timing runs in behind the last man and loves to drive the ball in low and hard causing havoc in the opposition penalty area. Firpo certainly has the strength and energy to get back and do the defensive work but with Marcelo Bielsa liking his wing backs to get forward, Firpo certainly fits the bill.
It had been a quiet start to the transfer window for Leeds but with Birmingham City youngster Amari Miller putting pen to paper last week, Harrison completing his permanent move and now Firpo joining, Victor Orta has really got going!