Junior Firpo’s struggles at Leeds United continued despite a more encouraging display in their 3-1 win over Burnley on Sunday afternoon.
The victory proved crucial to Marcelo Bielsa and his side as it moved the Yorkshire giants a whopping eight points clear of the relegation zone, leaving plenty of breathing room heading into the second half of the season.
However, the summer signing bore the brunt of the Argentine’s anger once again, according to LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross.
Firpo has struggled to adapt to the Premier League since his £13m move from Barcelona, even drawing criticism from sections of the Elland Road faithful at times and once again, he may have failed to impress his boss.
“Much like [Jack] Harrison, it’s not really been Firpo’s season. But today was again, without being exhilarating and astounding, very, very solid. And it feels like another step forward for him,” explained the journalist before adding some cause for concern:
“And I think you can see he frustrates Bielsa at times with his positioning, and I mean, we joked at one point he was playing like the number nine off [Tyler] Roberts. And from where we’re stood, you have to kind of make some assumptions on what Bielsa is saying and who he’s saying it to, but it looked very clear like he was shouting at Firpo, saying ‘what are you doing up there?’
“We know he loves to roam forward, he can’t help himself. He’s almost like a kid in the playground.”
The former Spain U21 international has been trusted to start the bulk of Leeds’ matches at left-back but that’s mainly because the club saw the departure of both Barry Douglas and Gjanni Alioski during the summer window, so really, he’s the only out-and-out option in the role.
In terms of average performance across the 2021/22 campaign, Firpo ranks as Bielsa’s worst-performing player (of those to start ten or more games), per WhoScored.
He is one of three players to have already amassed five yellow cards, which suggests he has found it difficult to combat the opposition regularly – one particular game against Brighton stands out as a fine example.
Bielsa had to hook the £10.8m-rated dynamo after just one half due to his inability to handle Tariq Lamptey. He was a walking liability, so it’s no wonder he was withdrawn early.
Thought to be earning around £55k-per-week, it may be wise for Bielsa to be ruthless and just axe him from the starting XI for the foreseeable and in a transfer window, an adequate replacement could quite easily be found.
Cross’ comments provide little encouragement to Firpo ever cutting the mustard at Elland Road. A brutal call considering his slightly positive performance but ultimately one that may be required in the long run.