Leeds must reluctantly unleash Junior Firpo

Leeds United enjoyed a fine performance in midweek but have cause to feel disappointed after relinquishing a 2-0 lead at Manchester United to draw 2-2.

It was still a solid point on the road in their pursuit of Premier League safety, made even more impressive by the fact that they did so without yet hiring a replacement for Jesse Marsch, who was sacked two days previously.

Michael Skubala is set to once again take the reins as they welcome the Red Devils to Elland Road today, hoping that they can build upon their fine performance rom Wednesday to this time gain all three points.

However, the Whites will have to do so without a couple of midweek starters, as both Luis Sinisterra and Pascal Struijk were forced off through injury at Old Trafford, and the latter’s likely replacement might worry the Yorkshire faithful.

The player who was brought on at Old Trafford to replace the Dutchman was Junior Firpo, who has received scorn for his poor performances since signing for €15m (£13m) in 2021.

Will Firpo play against Manchester United?

He will likely have to start now, given Leeds’ lack of action in the January transfer market to fix such a problem position.

Having been brought in to hold down their left-back spot for the foreseeable future, the 26-year-old has now seen his career stall under both Marcelo Bielsa and Marsch.

In his debut season in Yorkshire he was handed a 6.6 Sofascore rating, which has dropped to 6.3 in the current campaign. 

He offers little going forward, with just four goal contributions in 36 games, and he is not solid enough defensively to warrant such impotency. As per WhoScored, only one other Leeds player has a worse record for being beaten in dribbles, with a rate of 1.2 per game.

It is a searing indictment of his status within the squad that Struijk, a natural centre-back, has often been preferred to him at left-back.

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Journalist David Anderson even told GIVEMESPORT that he thought the defender causes more problems than he solves, claiming last year: “All he seems to do is get booked all the time. I think he’s up to 10 yellow cards or something. You don’t expect that from a player coming from Barcelona; you expect a bit of class, a bit of maturity, a bit of leadership, and he’s provided none of that, really.

“I think he’s been a big let-down. You’re looking around that changing room thinking, ‘Who’s going to step up and do it for us now?’ And you’d be looking at someone like him, but he’s just not. In fact, if anything, he’s been more of a liability for Leeds.”

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Erik ten Hag will be well aware that Firpo is likely to start, and given how he has already let down his two managers, he will surely now look to exploit that flank.

Alas, Skubala will probably have little option other than to hope that the 26-year-old might just come good against the Red Devils.

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