Too 'Junior' for Barça coach Valverde? What has happened to Firpo?

The left-back signed for up to 30 million but doesn't seem to his boss' taste

 Júnior Firpo no entró en la convocatoria ante el Levante pese a la lesión de Jordi Alba. Las cámaras de El Día Después captaron el momento. | El Día Después

Toni Juanmartí

Given what we have seen in Barcelona's performances against Levante and Slavia Prague, Junior Firpo is not one of Ernesto Valverde's biggest concerns. 

Therefore, it's surprising to see the summer signing ostracised. Especially as he came in to provide backup for Jordi Alba but now can't even get minutes when Alba is injured. 

Junior's case has taken on a new dimension this week. 'El Día Después' on Movistar + revealed the moment Barça assistant coach Jon Aspiazu told him he had not made the squad at Levante. The player's face said it all. 

And with good reason. Alba was on the bench even though he was injured and Nelson Semedo was summoned to play on the left, with Junior in the stands. 

Pie de foto | AUTOR FOTO

On Tuesday, against Slavia, he was again in the stands. This time Alba did start but he came off because he was injured. "If I don't even play when Alba is injured, when will I play?" he must have been thinking. 

Junior has played just 234 minutes this season, all in La Liga. In fact, it was only in Prague that he made the squad. Said in other words, he has played 17 percent of possible minutes. 

Curiously, the last time he played was the win at Getafe at the end of September. He scored but has not played since. An injury ruled him out at first but chances have not come around since he returned. 

Pie de foto | AUTOR FOTO

What does he need to do to win Ernesto Valverde around? He is still adapting and being a full-back at Barcelona is different to at other clubs. But he has looked good in attack and played in a similar style under Quique Setien at Real Betis. How will he learn if he does not play?

With Alba now out again with a hamstring injury, surely Junior will get a chance at some point? The imminent international break doesn't help him in that sense, but it will be hard for Valverde to ignore him, starting with Celta Vigo's visit to Camp Nou in La Liga this weekend. 

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