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Southampton to rival West Ham United for summer transfer of Junior Firpo as talks held with agent

According to ESPN, Southampton are set to rival West Ham United for the summer transfer of Junior Firpo after holding talks with the Barcelona defender’s representatives.

Firpo is one of several players Barcelona are intent on selling in the off-season to try and rebuild a side capable of winning La Liga, after a disappointing term saw Ronald Koeman’s side finish outside of the top-two for the first time since 2008.

The 24-year-old full-back is understood to have a host of potential suitors in the Serie A, with clubs keeping close tabs on his situation after AC Milan saw a loan-to-buy approach turned down in January.

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Southampton are now said to be throwing their hat into the mix with Ryan Bertrand due to leave Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side once his contract expires at the end of next month, and have approached Firpo’s representatives to discuss his availability.

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But the Saints are not the only Premier League club keen, as West Ham are also assessing the Dominican full-back’s situation, as Barcelona strive to recoup as much of the €30million (£26m) paid to Real Betis in 2019 (Mundo Deportivo).

Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli, plus Serie A outfits Inter Milan, Roma and Napoli are also touted as potential suitors, as Firpo strives to get his career back on track after two wasted seasons at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona had hoped to see Firpo rival Jordi Alba for the left-back position, but the former Spain U21 international has only made 41 appearances across all competitions in the past two years and started just three La Liga fixtures in 2020/21.

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With Bertrand set to leave St. Mary’s at the end of his contract next month, Firpo could represent a solid option for Hasenhuttl to plug his gap at full-back if Southampton are able to reach an agreement with Barcelona over the fee.

Firpo would add electrifying pace to the position and was viewed as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders before his move to Barcelona, where he proved to be a small fish in a big pond but would likely find the English south coast much more to his suiting.

The Dominican’s pace also allows him to get up the flank and track back, is comfortable in possession and could prove to be Hasenhuttl’s answer to Everton full-back Lucas Digne – who failed to meet the grade at Barcelona before moving to Goodison Park for £18m (BBC) in 2018 and has been one of the best in the Premier League since.

Only Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson (7) provided more assists than Digne (6) from left-back in the top-flight this term, while the Frenchman ranked third for accurate crosses (40), successful tackles (58) and first for aerial duels won (85), per WhoScored.

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