Was new Leeds Utd star Junior Firpo any good at Barcelona?

Martin Macdonald
New Leeds Utd signing Junior Firpo

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has addressed his troublesome left-back position with the acquisition of Barcelona defender Junior Firpo.

The 24-year-old is Leeds' second signing of the summer so far after the club made Jack Harrison's loan deal from Manchester City permanent.

Ultimately, Leeds have taken advantage of Barcelona's woeful financial situation to land Firpo on the cheap, and even though he has flattered to deceive in his career at Camp Nou, he is worth at punt at just £12.8 million.

As the Blaugrana searched for some cover for and competition for iconic left-back Jordi Alba, they eventually turned their attention to Real Betis and Firpo, who joined the Andalusian outfit as a youngster in 2014.

In the 2018/19 season he 22 starts in La Liga for Betis and scored three goals and recorded four assists.

It was that kind of form that led to Barca parting with an initial fee of €18 million in August of 2019 to bring him to Camp Nou.

Over his two seasons in Barcelona he would suffer four separate injuries, and although none of them kept him out for lengthy periods, it was these niggling absences which contributed to him never really getting up to speed.

I said ‘wow, this is interesting, they really want me'
- Junior Firpo on Leeds switch

Between August of 2019 when he signed until now, he made just 14 starts in La Liga and, crucially, only three of those starts came within the 2020/21 season, with Ronald Koeman clearly not fancying his talents.

Alba was clearly the preferred left-back, and Firpo's chances of minutes declined ever further when Barcelona moved to a 3-4-3 formation with wing-backs, with Alba playing on the left in that system too.

Ultimately, the Spanish born full-back never had the quality to usurp Alba into that left-back role.

Much like Nelson Semedo who has also now left Barcelona, Firpo struggled with the pressure of becoming a key attacking threat down the wing, as the Catalan side rely so heavily on their full-backs.

What has Firpo said about Leeds?

Firpo was presented as a Leeds player on Tuesday, and had this to say:

“I am really happy, I wanted to be here and I always wanted to play in the Premier League.

“This summer for me, there was many clubs interested. But when [Director of Football] Victor Orta spoke with me and showed me the project, I said ‘wow, this is interesting, they really want me’.

"In this moment, I said ok I want to go to Leeds. The people said to me that a full Elland Road is incredible. I want to see this!

“I only want to say I will give my all here, anytime that I play I will give 100% and I saw lots of messages from fans saying ‘Marching On Together’.”

Firpo mentioned the possibility of playing under Bielsa was a factor in his decision to move, too.

“I saw him [Marcelo Bielsa] in Spain when he trained there," he added.

“I know the coach that he is, and for me he is a really good coach. He wants to press all the time, play one against one many times, and for me that’s my football.

“Physical football, running, having the ball, for me it’s not a problem and I think he will help me go to another level.

“I think in this team I can show the player that I am, for me I hope I can show the people what I want to show.”