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Leeds United close in on Barcelona ace

Last Updated on by James King

Arguably one of last season’s surprise packages in the Premier League, Leeds United exceeded expectations to secure a ninth-place finish and they are showing no signs of settling for that moving forward.

While they invested intelligently last summer, making some high-profile signings, they are continuing with the same ambition this time around and have been linked with some exciting players.

One area of priority that has been earmarked for strengthening though is at left-back. With Gianni Alioski’s future up in the air at Elland Road, with the North Macedonia player still to decide whether to sign a new contract, a new left-back was still top of the list, regardless.

While Alioski can and has done a good job there for the Whites over the last couple of seasons, he isn’t a natural. If reports are to be believed, Sporting Director, Victor Orta, in partnership with mercurial manager Marcelo Bielsa, is understood to be close to finalising a deal for Barcelona’s Junior Firpo, according to BBC Sport via BBC Radio Leeds.

It is understood that talks between the two clubs are at an advanced stage with the fee believed to be in the region of £12 million for the player who made 18 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan side last season.

 

A much-needed upgrade

Since the end of the season, the West Yorkshire side has been linked to every top, young left-back around Europe, though as is the nature of Bielsa’s highly detail-orientated approach to research, many have been discarded.

What is clear though, is that Firpo fits the bill for the Argentine coach, and the 24-year-old is also considered to be at a perfect age. Of high priority for Bielsa, is that his full-backs are capable of providing a dynamic attacking threat while possessing boundless amounts of energy, tackle, and make the right decisions.

Certainly, at right-back, we have seen these traits in abundance from Luke Ayling over the last couple of seasons, who is one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Elland Road club.

Firpo moved to Barcelona in 2019 from Real Betis to provide competition to Jordi Alba and capably adapted to the step up. He has also shown that he can be a goal threat in recent seasons, having scored one La Liga goal in each of his last two seasons.

Should the deal be finalised, Firpo (who goes by ‘Junior’) will arrive in Leeds with abundant Champions League experience and link up with fellow star Spaniards Diego Llorente and Rodrigo Moreno, who arrived from Real Sociedad and Valencia respectively last summer.

Junior Firpo could be on the move to Leeds

Another coup for Leeds United

It is a testament to the work of Victor Orta and this top-class executive committee at Leeds that this deal is looking more and more likely. Barcelona are in somewhat dire straits, with the effects of COVID-19 causing substantial damage to their balance sheet and need to offload players quickly to raise funds for signings of their own.

Firpo is essentially seen as a luxury that they cannot afford to keep and at £12 million, Leeds will be getting a player, who under normal market circumstances is easily worth nearly double that amount.

With the left-back position tied down, Orta can then push ahead with other signings with the supremo understood to be in advanced talks with a number of other exceptional players, including Noa Lang, Matheus Cunha, and Nahitan Nandez.