When you sign a player from FC Barcelona, you expect to pick up a player of genuine quality who can make a difference. Junior Firpo, a former Real Betis full-back, is the ideal option for an attack-minded side. His power helps him to get past defenders, while his impressive passing range and crossing ability make him a good choice for breaking forward with. However, his pace can also play a role in helping him to get back into position.
However, despite all of his obvious ability Firpo has had one serious issue since leaving Betis – fitness. Availability is the best ability, as the saying goes, and Leeds United and its fans are getting tired of seeing Firpo miss action with injury. Signed in the summer as a relative marquee name, so far the player has been a let-down due to the fact he cannot seem to stay on the pitch for any meaningful length of time.
At 25, the player has to find fitness soon as injury problems at such an age could become chronic. Given the fact that previous full-back Ezgjan Alioski was so easy to love due to his high-tempo game and his availability, the fact that Firpo is so rarely in the team is already a concern.
In fact, it is one of many concerns so far this season. Leeds have not started well, looking weak in attack and flaky in defence. The fact that they have missed so much action from the fist choice full-back is a major issue, and is likely to cause some issues down the line for the club as they struggle.
His best game came in the victory over Watford at Elland Road, where Firpo looked aggressive and committed. Since, though, he has pick up this new muscular injury that is likely to keep the player out for at least two weeks.
Who will play left-back in Junior Firpo’s absence?
Leeds are not exactly blessed with squad depth, which became an issue last year when the bodies fell. They are lacking in enough depth to cover first team injuries for any major length of time. This is further proven by the fact that Stuart Dallas is vacating his new midfield role to go to left full-back, and is not exactly excelling. A team player of the highest order, Dallas will crack on and do his best.
It is, though, leaving Leeds with a bit of a headache. Midfield is weaker for Dallas’s absence, and the lack of available cover then means others are moved out of position to try and fit into the side.
These are major headache issues for coach Marcelo Bielsa, and is likely to play a key role in why the second top-flight season has been nowhere near as fun or as easy as the first. Expect some changes to arrive in the near future as Bielsa looks to find a solution, but for now Firpo continues to frustrate with yet another injury so early into his Leeds tenure.