Who is Leeds United target Junior Firpo? Versatile Barcelona man profiled amid Elland Road interest

Leeds United are interested in bringing Barcelona full-back Junior Firpo to Elland Road this summer - but who is he?

Monday, 28th June 2021, 11:29 am
Barcelona defender Junior Firpo. Pic: Getty
Barcelona defender Junior Firpo. Pic: Getty

The 24-year-old is a strong candidate for the left-back vacancy on Victor Orta's transfer shortlist, although Leeds are facing opposition from European clubs including Napoli, who qualified for the Europa League last season, and a number of Champions League outfits.

Here, we take a closer look at the Elland Road target:

Name: Junior Firpo

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Age: 24

Position: Left-back

Nationality: Dominican Republic/Spain (dual citizenship)

Previous clubs: Real Betis B, Real Betis

Current club: Barcelona

Who is Junior Firpo?

Leeds United target Junior Firpo is a versatile left-back who currently plays for La Liga giants Barcelona.

The 24-year-old's professional career began when he joined Real Betis at the age of 18 in 2015 from CD Puerto Malagueño.

He initially linked up with the club's B-side before being promoted to the first team in the summer of 2017.

After penning a new contract, he played a squad role before being handed his La Liga debut in the following February - becoming the first Domincan Republic-born player to feature in Spain's top flight.

He scored his first professional goal a month later against Espanyol.

Following an impressive and swift rise, Barcelona landed his signature on a five-year deal worth $18m plus $12m in add-ons to take him to the Nou Camp in 2019.

He has, though, struggled to break into the senior side on a permanent basis with Jordi Alba currently holding a starting place for the Catalan club.

Dutch boss Ronald Koeman only handed him minutes in 18 games last term and the full-back was close to sealing a loan move to AC Milan in January.

Barcelona's financial issues also mean they are expected to cash in on his playing rights this summer.

Junior, as he is known, holds dual citizenship for the Domincan Republic - where he lived until he was six - and Spain.

He has represented Spain's youth teams at Under-21s level previously.

What's he like as a player?

Junior Firpo is a left-back by trade but has a versatile skill set which has seen him deployed at right-back, centre-back and in midfield previously.

Similarly to Gjanni Alioski - whose Elland Road future is still unknown - his attacking ability is a big factor in his play, having scored seven times and recorded nine assists in his 62 top flight games during his career.

What's been said?

Barcelona coach - Ronald Koeman (January, 2021)

"It depends on the player. Junior is with us and he did well in the minutes he has had. It depends on what each young player wants, we cannot lose all the players either. We need a squad to face the many games that remain," he said.

Former youth coach - Juan Jose Romero (July, 2019)

"He is the footballer who most impressed me in his first training session," Romero said to Goal.

"He looked like a beast of a footballer from the very first moment. He has the formidable maturity and personality which give him the chance to go far, he has a bullet-proof character, he is a defender of great quality and has confidence in himself.

"That confidence can be a problem sometimes because he believes in himself a lot but it is a trait which could be positive if he handles it correctly. Sometimes he looks cocky and that leads him to make very visible mistakes.

"But he could end up having a career similar to that of Sergio Ramos. He also came to Real Madrid and the national team as a full-back, to end up in the middle of defence and, even though Junior doesn't have the defensive power of Ramos as a centre-back, neither did Ramos have the attacking threat Junior is showing."