Despite their last-minute attempts on transfer deadline day, Southampton were unable to sign a full-back during the recent winter transfer window, which has undoubtedly been a big factor behind their recent poor run of form.
Yan Valery and Jake Vokins were both sent out on loan, and Kyle Walker-Peters subsequently picked up an injury, leaving Ryan Bertrand as the only fit natural full-back at the club.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have endured a torrid run of form in recent weeks, picking up just one point out of a possible 24, with their defence looking particularly vulnerable.
Therefore, it will be a cause of frustration for Southampton fans to hear that, according to The Athletic, the South Coast club were extremely close to signing left-back Junior Firpo on loan from Barcelona in January, only for the deal to collapse at the last minute due to uncertainty at the Catalan club ahead of their presidential elections.
The 24-year-old has struggled for regular game time with Barcelona since joining from Real Betis in the summer of 2019, having made just 37 appearances, contributing two goals and three assists in that time.
This season the defender has been limited to just two starts in La Liga under Ronald Koeman, although he has managed one goal and one assist in that time, averaging a solid 6.70 rating.
With Firpo perhaps struggling to usurp Jordi Alba at the Catalan club, it would have made a lot of sense for him to join the Saints where he could have challenged for a starting spot in Hasenhuttl’s side.
Considering there is still uncertainty surrounding the future of Ryan Bertrand at Southampton, with his contract set to expire in the summer, signing someone such as Firpo on loan, potentially with the view to signing him permanently, would have been good business by Southampton.
Firpo’s former teammate Marc Batra was full of praise for him in 2019, saying:
“He is a player who has shown that he has a lot of potential, quality and the ability [to be] in the right place at the right time.”
Certainly, if Firpo were able to rediscover the excellent form he showed in his time with Betis, where he averaged a superb 7.12 rating in the 2016/17 season, he would have surely proved to be a solid signing for the Saints, and the club will no doubt regret not being able to bring him when you consider their recent defensive frailties and lack of squad depth in defence.