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Manchester United and Liverpool battle for Junior Firpo but could Kieran Tierney be a better fit?

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be going head-to-head with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp over Real Betis defender Junior Firpo this summer. United was first linked to the 22-year-old left-back last month in what is now being described as a £45 million transfer, which is the same amount as the player’s release clause.

The reports state that both Liverpool and United had not been put off by the player’s price tag, which could be good for the Spanish side. One factor in both clubs being interested in the player is to bolster the left-back position. United has just Luke Shaw who is a true left back with Liverpool having just Andy Robertson, however, United had Ashley Young, who could play in that role, which could be problematic.

Firpo can also play in a number of other positions, including; central defence, left-wing, which could also add some desire in both managers signing the 22-year-old this summer. However, for United at least, there might be other players out there who might be a better fit, especially for the money that would have to be spent on this transfer alone, if the reports are, in fact, true.

One of those players is Celtic’s 22-year-old left-back, Kieran Tierney. The Scottish international fullback is currently linked to Arsenal but a £15 million bid has been rejected for the player, who is valued at £25 million by the Scottish champions. This could become a £20 million saving on Firpo for United which could also see another player from the United Kingdom in the playing squad and a player with immense talent to rival Shaw.

Arsenal is seeking to replace Nacho Monreal who left the club at the end of last season so will be urgently looking to sign a player to replace him. However, United are not so desperate and that could add complications, such as the player not seeing himself as the first choice left-back at the club, which could be the same for Firpo. Both Tierney and Firpo can play in different positions, however, the former is not a regular at anything other than left-back.

Under the years of success under Sir Alex Ferguson, United always had more than one option in all positions, which is a good method to success and gives more depth, especially if there are injuries or the main player in that position is not performing to the best of their abilities. Competition in a certain position demands the best from each player in line to play there, which should produce for United, something we have not seen for some time.

Of course, there are no guarantees that United is actually interested in Firpo, or Tierney for that matter, however, they should be. United will have a number of players scouted for the last few months or longer. They should really be in a more advanced stage of recruitment at this stage of the summer, however, other Premier League clubs have still not made waves in the transfer market yet.

If a left-back is to be recruited this summer, Tierney should be a more affordable option to that of Firpo. The fact Celtic would sell for £25 million, if there was an offer on the table should really be a no brainer for United, who under the Glazers have been penny-pinching for a long time now. That should be great news for Ed Woodward and his purse strings. I think Tierney could challenge Shaw which would bring the best of both players, or at least it should do.

Manchester United targeting Dominican-born Real Betis left-back worth between €20-€30 million

Another day in the summer transfer windows means another player is linked to Manchester United. However, this one may have some credibility because of the method used to report it. Real Betis fullback Junior Firpo is the latest in a long line of players to be linked to the Old Trafford club ahead of the start of a rebuild for the club.

Spanish publication AS has stated that Betis were currently dealing with United over the transfer of Firpo. Credit goes to Sport Witness for the translation. Normally, when United are linked to players, it seems that it has just happened to gain clicks rather than informing the public of something, whether it is happening, has happened or could be happening.

However, in this instance, that does not seem to be the case. This particular piece of information does not carry a story of its own in AS but is included in a piece written about Tottenham Hotspur’s interest in Giovani Lo Celso. The writer of the article is local to Betis, says Sport Witness, so this particular piece of news could carry some weight.

It has been stated that United are willing to pay between €25-€30 million for Firpo, who was born in the Dominican Republic but will represent Spain in the U21 Championships this summer. The 22-year-old is a left-back but can play as a defensive midfielder (on the left) also as a left-sided central defender. With United having only Luke Shaw at left-back, Firpo could add depth, competition and a rotation option.

Another Spanish publication, Diario de Sevilla, carries a similar claim about United’s interest in Firpo, written by another journalist in the Betis area, suggesting that United had taken the lead for the player, this time stating that an offer of more than €20 million would be offered for the player. It has also been stated that United have already entered the race the sign Firpo, offering a much smaller amount, trying their luck maybe, meaning they will need to raise their offer. All clubs will do this, not just United.

The fact that both claims from different people are so similar could suggest that the ‘leak’ came from Betis, which could suggest that this is true or that the club is trying to drum up interest for the player. We might see some movement in these claims in the coming weeks, keeping in mind that the transfer window may be open for domestic transfers but for international transfers, there is still more than two weeks to pass before they can be ratified.

Firpo was part of the Betis academy and has been playing for Betis B in the Spanish Segunda from the 2014/15 season to the 2017/18 season, making 14 appearances in the first team that season, scoring two goals. During the 2018/19 season, Firpo played 29 times in all competitions, scoring three goals, assisting five more. He played a total of 2,314 minutes of football in La Liga, Copa del Rey and the UEFA Europa League.

The 22-year-old is a player whose strengths include; holding onto the ball, passing (including key passes), through balls, dribbling, concentration, and his defensive contribution. Firpo also likes to play short passes, which may fit in with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s style of play in the future. The player clearly fits the talented youth bracket and has the ability to become a special player in the squad for United, whether he plays in rotation to Shaw or wrestles the left-back position from him.

It is good to see United looking at players other clubs would be looking at, turning them into potential Premier League players which may in future end up being sold to teams such as United. The whole method of targeting already established players has not worked as well is may have been though so taking a different approach in the transfer market could be beneficial for United in the long-term, which this approach would be.

copyright: JW