Marcelo Bielsa gives Junior Firpo honest grade on Leeds Utd start

Date published: Thursday 30th September 2021 6:22 - Matthew Briggs

Junior Firpo Leeds August 2021

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has evaluated Junior Firpo’s start to life in the Premier League.

The full-back arrived from Barcelona in the summer to replace Ezgjan Alioski. Alioski, 29, departed on a free transfer, while Firpo was a £12.8m signing from Barca at the start of July.

The 25-year-old has though suffered an inauspicious start to life at Elland Road. And at the moment it’s debatable whether Leeds have got themselves an upgrade on Alioksi.

Firpo has made five Premier League appearances, including four starts. But he was hooked at half-time in the defeat at Manchester United. He was also replaced on the hour in the draw with Everton.

A positive Covid-19 test saw him miss out against Burnley, but Bielsa insists Firpo has had a solid start.

The unfortunate defender also scored an own goal in the defeat to West Ham last week.

Asked if Bielsa had to protect his morale in training, he said: “The ball hit him in the equalising goal. It was just an anecdote. Nobody can evaluate whether Junior played well or poorly because a ball hit him in the back and went in the goal.

“With regards to his evolution in the team, I think he hasn’t been able to play a seven-point performance, but he hasn’t also played below a six performance.


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Alioski took time to ‘stabilise’

“He has had a regular performance and he’s grown, but below what he’s capable of doing. To give an example, Alioski took a lot of games to stabilise his game and he had been in England for a few years.

 

“Junior coming from playing with two teams that play a different rhythm to the Premier League – no better or worse, but different and this process is taking him forward and from my point-of-view it invites optimism.

“When Junior manages to have the rhythm the Premier League imposes on you, he’s going to be a full-back that shines a lot because he has all the physical and technical resources to generate moments of very good football.”

READ MORE: ‘Positive outcome’ close on Kalvin Phillips future as Bielsa talks Man Utd links

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