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Getting to Know: Barcelona Left-Back Junior Firpo

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A deep dive into Junior Firpo’s playing career.

FC Barcelona v CD Leganes - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Full name: Héctor Junior Firpo Adames
Squad No: 24
Position: Left-back
Date of birth: 22 August 1996
Place of birth: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Height: 1.84 m (6 ft)
Weight: 78 kg (172 lbs)

Club career

Junior Firpo was born in the Dominican Republic, but started playing organized football after his family moved to Spain, to Benalmádena, Malaga, when Firpo was six years old. In his early years he went through the youth ranks of Atlético Benamiel, Tiro Pichón and Puerto Malagueño, before settling 140 miles northwest of his Spanish hometown in Seville, in the academy of Real Betis.

Aged 18, Firpo didn’t stay hidden in the youth selections for long, quickly moving to the Betis B team ahead of the 2015-16 season. He spent one full season with the B team, along with parts of two campaigns, amassing 45 appearances and two goals. Firpo made his Real Betis debut on 12 February 2018, aged 21, in a loss against Deportivo La Coruña, becoming the first Dominican born player to play in La Liga. He spent the remainder of the season with the first team. Going into the next season, Firpo was named starting left-back, but a series of muscle injuries derailed what started off as a very strong campaign.

Still, the defender showed enough promise in parts of two seasons to garner the attention of Barcelona, who made an offer for his services. The Catalan giants and Betis agreed to an €18 million (plus €12 million in add-ons) transfer to sign Firpo after 43 games played, five goals scored and seven assists for the Andalusian club.

Being the backup to Jordi Alba, Firpo had to wait for his opportunities, though he made his debut early in the season as a late substitute, in round two against his former club. Firpo waited patiently, and opportunities came, but to say he took his chances would be an overstatement. There were positives in his game, but his inexperience also led to many chances against. The fact that he’s been struggling with various muscle injuries since the start of the season didn’t help his progress. In his Barcelona career Junior Firpo has made 20 appearances for the Blaugrana, scoring a single goal and providing two assists.

International career

Being born in the Dominican Republic, but growing up in Spain, Firpo holds dual citizenship and can still decide which country he wants to represent as he’s still uncapped at the senior level. He has, however, featured for the Spain U-21 team on four occasions, debuting on 6 September 2018 against Albania.

Profile

Firpo is not your typical left-back. While he provides his team with the usual left-back attributes as speed and vision, he does that with the addition of height which is a luxury at the position. Very comfortable in attack, where he links up very well with his teammates, making good passes and timely runs. His defensive game is lagging behind his offense, but with added experience, some of the holes that have been exposed this season should be closed shut.

Honors

Spain

· UEFA U-21 European Championship (1): 2019

Contract Status

Upon joining Barcelona, Firpo signed a five year contact, until June 30 2024, with the buy-out clause set at €200 million.