Barcelona have finally signed another left-back and it’s none other than Real Betis starlet Junior Firpo. The Spain U21 star had a good season with Los Verdiblancos last time out and has managed to secure a dream move to the Camp Nou.
The 22-year-old will now hope to compete with Jordi Alba for a first-team spot, so let’s have a look at what Firpo can bring to his new team.
While his attacking prowess is definitely noteworthy, Firpo has a unique style of play wherein he tries to break away from his defensive formation and try to regain possession by tackling. With around 1.6 tackles per game, it is evident that he likes to get stuck in. Also, due to his pace, he can backtrack effortlessly and re-join the defence in case he gets caught out. This ability not only gives him an edge over opponents but also allows him to get back into position quickly. As he can also play as a left midfielder, Valverde can also employ him in a 4-4-2 beside the holding midfielder if the team needs extra defensive stability.
Physique and tall stature
Firpo is a lofty presence at six foot which not only makes him a set-piece threat but also an aerial duel specialist. Out of 2.5 aerial duels attempted per game, he has managed to win 1.5 of them, which is pretty impressive for a left-back. Therefore, the team can rely upon his aerial ability at both ends of the pitch when needed.
With a total of 1.9 dribbles attempted per game and 1.3 being successful (compared to Alba’s 0.4 successful dribbles out of a total 0.6 attempted per game), dribbling is one of his strengths and is an added asset that will help him fit into the first team. Also, he regularly attempts overlapping runs adding more to the attacking department. With three goals and four assists in the league last season, he is bound to increase that tally when linking up with the likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Overall, he is a promising full-back and has the ability to give Jordi Alba competition for his starting spot. But what he possesses in talent, he lacks in experience. He will also need to adjust his game as he has plied his trade with a team that likes to play with a three-man defence, a far cry from Barcelona’s backline. Firpo has to not only gain experience but also do it while settling into an unfamiliar formation, which is difficult. However, if he can successfully make that transition, he will prove to be a bargain signing for Barca.