Junior Firpo gives Barcelona some much-needed depth

Barcelona have long required decent defensive cover for their left-back Jordi Alba.

‘The Squirrel’ as Alba is affectionately termed, has seen off all comers to this point, but the fact is that he’s getting no younger.

There are no signs of the Spanish international slowing down just yet, however, by being pushed week in and week out, Barca can at the very least ensure they’re getting the maximum from a player who is now considered one of their elder statesman.

The signing of Junior Firpo from Real Betis allows the club to do just that.Not that the youngster will be arriving at the Camp Nou to make up the numbers, mind.

The 22-year-old out-scored his contemporary last season, including a goal in Betis’ surprise 4-3 win at the Camp Nou, a game in which he also provided an assist.

Though not as quick as Alba, Firpo is more powerful and strides forward with purpose.

To that end, he certainly offers Ernesto Valverde something different, and it was the Basque coach who personally asked the Barcelona board to bring him the player.

Marc Cucurella, recently procured by Getafe after being re-signed by Barca once his loan at Eibar finished, will feel aggrieved that he wasn’t given any length of time to prove his worth.

After all, the former Barca B man was brought up through the youth ranks and the style of play was already ingrained.

Firpo, for all of his attributes, will still need to get used to a different way of working, which could take time.

As a Spanish U21 international, it’s obvious why he wanted to make the move at this point in his career, not only because chances to play for the likes of Barcelona don’t come around often, but also as it affords him the chance to push forward his international credentials.

With the greatest of respect to Betis, Firpo will now be training and playing alongside some world class players, and that can only be of benefit for his own development.

Where the move becomes a win-win effectively, is in his personal desire to topple Alba from a position he’s held as his own for the past seven years.

There’s certainly no danger of the Dominican being overawed by the task ahead of because, frankly, why make the move if that was the case?

How many minutes he will be given across his debut season for the Blaugrana will be found out in due course, but it’s shaken things up on the left side of Barca’s defence.

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