Jordi Alba is expected to be out between two to three weeks after limping out of Barcelona’s 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League.
Sergi Roberto substituted him, with Nélson Semedo moving to left-back. It’s not something Ernesto Valverde foresaw, because Junior Firpo was not even on the bench that game.
However, now that Alba is out of the squad for the next few matches, the former Real Betis player will surely feature. Last season, Alba had no substitute in the first team after Lucas Digne was sold to Everton. Firpo was bought for €18 million plus €12 million in add-ons precisely to remedy that situation.
The fullback impressed last season at Betis after coming up through the ranks at the Sevillian club, enough that he became a hot commodity, and Barcelona were very keen to get him into the squad.
Firpo was born in the Dominican Republic and represented them in a friendly against the Brazilian Olympic team. However, he spent most of his life in Spain and has more recently represented the Spanish U-21 team.
Firpo is almost half a foot taller than Alba and represents more aerial presence. Few can match Alba for pure acceleration, but Firpo is not too far behind, either.
However, Firpo has yet to log official minutes with Barça and is coming off an injury. Will he impress if he’s picked to start the very next match, against Granada this weekend?