Junior Firpo, in the absence of other left-backs, has stepped up to the mark for Daniel Farke’s Leeds United in recent games after his Whites career looked in danger of completely fizzling out at one point.
Firpo has three assists from three after being reinstated into the first team ranks in West Yorkshire, starring against Birmingham City on New Year’s Day to show to everyone at Elland Road that he won’t just exit the Championship club with a whimper – notching up two assists in a convincing 3-0 home win.
Yet, despite this new lease of life coursing through Firpo’s veins encouraging the Leeds fanbase that once got on his back to reevaluate their preconceptions, one transfer development coming out of the Whites could see the ex-Barcelona man’s improved game time cut once again.
Leeds looking for a left-back
Linked with the likes of Conor Roberts, Neco Williams and even Ben Davies recently, as per The Athletic it’s obvious the problem area Leeds are trying to add depth to this January.
Another name that keeps popping up is West Ham United defender Ben Johnson, who could give Leeds a versatile and adaptable figure that can play anywhere across the defence.
Confirmed to have interest in the Hammers man by Phil Hay, whilst writing for the Athletic this Wednesday, the defender’s competence at playing left-back across his time at the London Stadium could have Firpo worrying about his newly found first-team spot.
In detail, Hay wrote: “Johnson is also on the list. The 23-year-old has seen relatively few minutes this season, is on course to be out of contract in the summer and has rejected offers of an extension to his current deal, but Leeds would favour a loan agreement in this window. “
Leeds could land “fantastic” upgrade on Firpo & Spence after Phil Hay reveal
Leeds United could upgrade their defence significantly with this signing, slotting him in alongside an in-form Joe Rodon.
With TEAMtalk reporting last month that Firpo was talking to former club Real Betis over a possible move back to Spain – before his reintroduction into the starting XI by Farke – this news involving Johnson could see the 27-year-old itch for a move away again.
How Ben Johnson compares to Junior Firpo
Johnson’s potential arrival to Elland Road would see Leeds opt for a no-thrills player over the slaloming and exciting nature of Firpo, but a dependable presence who very rarely lets anyone down.
Johnson has come into David Moyes’ side when needed without causing any disruption to harmony present at the London Stadium, making 57 Premier League appearances for the Londoners as a useful if unflashy player.
The West Ham number two has arguably excelled playing down the left-hand side when called into action, registering two assists from 22 appearances filling in there.
Described as being a “wonderful professional” by ex-Hammers first team coach Stuart Pearce for his acceptance at being a utility player, he could well be the sort of presence Farke fancies during a promotion push.
Firpo, in stark contrast, struggled when Leeds were in the top-flight – only helping the Whites keep one clean sheet from the 19 times he featured during their disastrous relegation season down to the second tier.
On top of that, the 27-year-old would only help himself to a singular assist from those games with a dire 6.55 Sofascore rating averaged over the pitiful campaign.
With the likes of Archie Gray and Joe Rodon comfortable on the ball and progressing up the field, Johnson’s addition could also give the Whites a dogged defender who is unafraid to do the dirty work away from beginning attacking moves.
The 23-year-old trumps Firpo when it comes to undergoing his basic defensive duties according to FBRef, bettering the revitalised Leeds defender in aerials won with Johnson winning 1.48 per 90 minutes over the last year compared to Firpo’s 1.01.
Yet, Johnson won’t hesitate in helping his team push further up the field if needed with the fringe Hammers defender bettering Firpo surprisingly in progressive carries with 1.97 managed to Firpo’s lesser 1.44.
Former West Ham player Frank McAvennie commented on the potential of this deal with Football Insider, stating that the Whites would be gaining a “quality” player who could help steer the West Yorkshire titans to a pivotal promotion.
Proving himself to be an all-rounder at the London Stadium, Farke should go all in for the services of the wantaway 23-year-old with Firpo prone to blowing hot and cold across his topsy-turvy Leeds career to date.