Football News

Ernesto Valverde suggests Barcelona have won race to sign Junior Firpo despite Liverpool links

By Chris Smith

Published: 18:36, 26 July 2019

Ernesto Valverde has confirmed a new left-back may soon arrive at the Camp Nou amid reports Barcelona have beaten Liverpool to the signature of Junior Firpo.

Firpo notched three goals and four assists for Real Betis last season, following up with some impressive attacking performances as Spain won this summer’s Uefa U-21 European Championships in Italy.

Firpo to Barça? Five key things to know…

  • Firpo has 43 senior appearances under his belt for Betis to date.
  • He provided four La Liga assists last term and won the U-21 Euros this summer.
  • His form over the past 12 months drew links to Barça, Liverpool and Man Utd.
  • A tug of war between Barça and Liverpool emerged.
  • Valverde has admitted he is seeking a left-back, making Barça favourites.

His form over the past 12 months has drawn links to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Barcelona and Liverpool emerging as favourites to sign him.

Barça have only the 30-year-old Jordi Alba in their squad as a natural left-back, while Jurgen Klopp is short of cover for Andy Robertson having allowed Alberto Moreno to depart Anfield on a free transfer.

It is now thought Barça have beaten Liverpool to the punch and Valverde has admitted he is seeking to remedy this “problem” area.

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“It is true that we had some problems on the left side [of defence] and it is possible that somebody may arrive,” he told reporters in Japan ahead of Barça’s friendly against Vissel Kobe.

“But we are open to the market until the last day and we will see what happens.”

Valverde addresses Rakitic future amid Man Utd links

While it would appear Firpo is on the verge of joining Barça, the future of midfielder Ivan Rakitic remains rather unclear.

The Croatia international has made 268 competitive appearances for the Blaugrana to date, winning nine major honours in the process.

However, the 31-year-old faces competition from the newly signed Frenkie de Jong this season and with reports linking Rakitic to Manchester United multiplying, Valverde has refused to guarantee his place in the starting XI this season.

“Rakitic has been an important player, I don’t know if it will be this season,” said the Spaniard. “New players are coming and he will have to win it.”