Junior Firpo to Leeds United: Barcelona left-back should instantly improve Elland Road squad

Leeds United are not just expected to make their first big signing of summer when they bring Junior Firpo from Barcelona, they will finally have a specialist left-back after a year without.

Twelve months ago, Leeds were happy to let the only one on their books - Barry Douglas - go out on loan for the rest of his contract but the development of Stuart Dallas since and Ezgjan Alioski's contract running down mean they could no longer ignore the gap in their squad.

Leeds won the 2020 Championship with Dallas largely at left-back and of course he was brilliant there. The Northern Ireland international is brilliant at every position he turns his hand to.

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But the Whites' first season back in the Premier League went up a notch in the second half of last season, and another change of position for Dallas was vital. A regular full-back or wing-back in the first half of the campaign, he played in central midfield for 13 of the last 18 Premier League matches, never more eye-catchingly than at Manchester City.

TARGET: Barcelona left-back Junior Firpo is set to join Leeds United
TARGET: Barcelona left-back Junior Firpo is set to join Leeds United

The balance between attack and defence got better, Leeds were a better team. For the first time in years, Mateusz Klich's name on a team-sheet was no longer guaranteed.

Allowing Dallas to keep playing there makes the team better on its own.

Into the void winger Alioski's education as a full-back continued. Despite the odd erratic moment, the North Macedonian adapted to the role well, and had he signed the new contract offered to him, Leeds could easily have played another 12 months without worrying about it.

But for the Whites at the moment, it is not about standing still, it is about progressing. European football is a realistic medium-, maybe even short-term goal for a club which has not punched its weight for far too long.

Crazy though that would have sounded not so long ago, at around £13m the 24-year-old Dominican with Spanish citizenship comes at a price that far from guarantees an upgrade for a mid-table Premier League side, but after what Leeds got in return for the £17m they paid for Raphinha last summer, bargains are still there to be had.

Hugely indebted Barcelona are desperately trying to offload players to make space on their wage bill for Lionel Messi - incredibly, unemployed like Alioski at the moment - within the rules of financial fair play, never mind economic commonsense.

The form of Jordi Alaba means Firpo has had precious little first-team football at the Nou Camp, but that is hardly the sign of a bad player. That he can play anywhere across a back four suggests the intelligence and adaptability you have to have if you want to play for Marcelo Bielsa.

The squad will look a lot better with Firpo on board.

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