Jorge Sampaoli to rival West Ham United for transfer of Barcelona defender Junior Firpo
According to Mundo Deportivo, Jorge Sampaoli is considering a move for Marseille to sign West Ham United target Junior Firpo as Barcelona seek to sell the discarded full-back.
Firpo has faced an uncertain future at the Camp Nou for the past year having failed to establish a prominent role for himself under a succession of managers, with Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and most recently Ronald Koeman all preferring Jordi Alba.
Barcelona had hoped to see Firpo rival Alba for the position after paying Real Betis up to €30million (£26m) for his services in 2019, but have only seen the 24-year-old start 21 of his 40 appearances across all competitions.
Firpo may now be offered a route away from Catalunya with Sampaoli considering the Dominican to be a worthwhile improvement to the Marseille backline, having gained first-hand knowledge of his potential when in charge of Real Betis’ local rivals Sevilla.
Marseille President Pablo Longoria also has a positive file on Firpo from his time as Valencia’s Sporting Director, but would face a European wide battle to sign the left-back with interest from England and Italy.
West Ham are thought to be assessing Firpo’s situation but are not the only Premier League side keen, while Inter Milan, Roma and Napoli could all present a path to the Serie A.
The Hammers had explored a deal for the defender in January as David Moyes sought to add depth behind Aaron Cresswell (ESPN), but was unable to offer Firpo any assurances over his game time which the former Spain U21 international had set out as fundamental to a move.
It would seem unlikely that Moyes is now able to offer Firpo the assurances he was after regarding game time, with the West Ham boss full of praise for Cresswell this season and recently stating how impressed he had been with the full-back’s progress.
“I think Cressie has improved as a player more in the last six months than in what I had seen in the last couple of years,” Moyes told football.london. “I think maybe he has taken pride in the deliveries and in creating the goals and assists.”
Cresswell penned his eighth assist of the Premier League season on Wednesday by setting Angelo Ogbonna up to head home his side’s go-ahead goal, which is more assists than any other Irons player this term.
Cresswell has also now assisted more top-flight goals this season than any other defender, and ranks joint-first across the division with Wolves’ Joao Moutinho for chances created from free-kicks (12), sixth from crosses (35) and seventh from corners (16), per WhoScored.
Moyes would struggle to say to Cresswell in the summer that he is no longer the first-choice at the position, which could allow Sampaoli the advantage in talks to sign Firpo.
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