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He’s magic you know, Leeds sign the Barca Firpo
Tuesday, 6th Jul 2021 17:54 by Tim Whelan

It’s been known for some time that Leeds were in the running to sign Barcelona left-back Junior Firpo, and today the club’s official site confirmed that the deal is complete. They describe the fee as ‘undisclosed’, but ESPN are reporting that the deal worth an initial €15 m, or about £12.85m in old money.

A new-left back has been Leeds highest priority this summer after the decision to release Barry Douglas, and finding that Alioski’s defending wasn’t quite up to par against the best right-sided attackers the Premier League has to offer. So they will be delighted to have got this deal over the line, with Firpo signing a four year deal.

Firpo was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to Spain at a young age and began his football career at Real Betis, making his first La Liga debut in February 2018. After making 29 appearances for Betis in 2018/19 he was called up to Spain’s Under-21 squad which won the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

This prompted Barcelona to sign him in August 2019 and he went on to play 41 times for the Catalan giants. But Jordi Alba was the first choice for his position, which prompted Firpo to seek a move away from the Camp Nou in search of more regular first team football. And Barcelona were in no position to try to entice him to stay, with their urgent need to pick up the transfer fee and reduce their wage bill.

After Covid had slashed their matchday receipts, their wage bill became 110% of their total income last season, which severely limits the amount they can spend on new players under the regulations laid down by the Spanish football authorities. It would help if they could get some of their higher earners off the books, but that is proving difficult with many of the other leading European clubs in a similar position and the players refusing to cancel their contracts and take a pay cut.

So Barca are having to part with their better young players instead, and some of their fans on Twitter seem very disappointed that Fipro is leaving them. Some feel that he is better than Alba and should have been given more opportunities while he was there. One even said “good luck, best left back in the world”!

A number of clubs showed interest once it became apparent that Fipro was available, including AC Milan, but they wanted to take him on loan, but Barca’s financial position meant that they had a strong preference to make a permanent sale. And Victor Orta’s determination to sign the player convinced Fipro his future lay in West Yorkshire, after our director of football endured five days in quarantine to speak to him personally in Barcelona.

Fipro told the official site “I always wanted to play in the Premier League. When Victor Orta spoke with me and showed me the project, I said ‘wow, this is interesting, they really want me’. The people said to me that a full Elland Road is incredible. I want to see this!” And he also feels that playing under Marcelo Bielsa will further develop his game.

“I saw him in Spain when he trained there. I know the coach that he is, and for me he is a really good coach. He wants to press all the time, play one against one many times, and for me that’s my football. Physical football, running, having the ball, for me it’s not a problem and I think he will help me go to another level. I think in this team I can show the player that I am, for me I hope I can show the people what I want to show.”

Following a period of quarantine and completion of his medical, the 24-year-old signed a four-year deal at Elland Road, running until the summer of 2025. He will wear the number 3 shirt and will immediately join the squad for pre-season training. But it’s not all gloom and doom for Barcelona, as it’s been reported that they will get 20% of any fee that Leeds get from selling the player on.

Firpo becomes the third signing made by Leeds this summer. Young Amari Miller from Birmingham City was the first, and then we finally converted Jack Harrison’s long-running loan deal into a permanent transfer. There is plenty of other recruitment to be done before the new season starts in August and well keep you up to date with transfer news as it happens.

Photo: Action Images

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