All you need to know about the Real Betis defender linked with a move to the Premier League
Thursday 6 December 2018 13:41, UK
Arsenal, Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Newcastle are reportedly interested in a move for Junior Firpo, but what do we know about the Real Betis left-back?
The queue for Firpo is getting longer if reports are to believed. If the highest-scoring defender in La Liga in the calendar year of 2018 is not snapped up by Arsenal or Manchester City, Newcastle and Crystal Palace have also joined the chase for one of the nominees for November's La Liga player of the month.
Here's what you need to know about the 22-year-old, who has scored three times in his last four matches...
Hector Junior Firpo Adames grew up in Malaga, Andalusia, having moved there with his family from the Dominican Republic aged six. After starring for local youth club Puerto Malagueno, he joined Betis as an 18-year-old and played for three years with Betis B before joining the senior team for the start of the 2017/18 season.
He became the first Dominican to have played in La Liga when making his debut in a 1-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna in February. The first of his Betis goals came in March during a 3-0 defeat of Espanyol.
He scored the 33rd-minute winner in Sunday's 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad when seizing on a loose ball. The first scorer in Betis' shock 4-3 win at Barcelona on November 11, he caused the champions real trouble.
Aged 18, he played for the Dominican national team in 2015 in a 6-0 friendly loss to Brazil's U23 team, but was capped in August by the Spain U21 team against Albania. He has spoken of his roots being in Malaga with his family settled in Andalusian region.
Standing six feet tall, Firpo has a rangy stride that he uses to power himself down the flank and make infield incursions. He is also no stranger to yellow cards, having picked up four in 13 matches this season.
Spanish publication Marca describes him as "effervescent", and he perfectly fits Betis coach Quique Setien's attacking philosophy. He also possesses the versatility to step into a back three on the left.
With Arsenal's Nacho Monreal now 32 and City's Benjamin Mendy having suffered repeated fitness problems, the 22-year-old would seem a decent candidate for both teams. Five goals since debuting in February and some promising defensive performances for Betis have made him a player with plenty of suitors.
Both Newcastle and Palace are looking to strengthen in his position but a £45m release clause that runs to 2023 would seem beyond both those relegation strugglers' budget .
"My thoughts are now with Betis and I am very happy in Seville. My girlfriend is pregnant, we are going to have our child here in Seville, I am close to my family and my parents who are from Malaga - that is where I grew up."
With under a year's experience of top-level football, Firpo is raw but his attributes - physique, enthusiasm and skill on the ball - have taken him pretty far. He is already regarded as one of the best U23 players in Spanish football.
He offers similar attributes to Mendy and would add an extra attacking dimension to Arsenal, perhaps as a player to mirror Hector Bellerin on the opposite flank. Real Madrid and Barcelona may also be looking for someone to eventually replace Jordi Alba and Marcelo.