?The pressure on Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde appears to have increased after reports of frustration at board level over Junior Firpo’s lack of action emerged.
First-choice left-back Jordi Alba missed four matches in early autumn due to a hamstring strain, with the Spaniard suffering a relapse in the week. However, his understudy Junior has made only four appearances this season and has not featured since September, despite joining from Real Betis for a fee that could rise to €30m.
Junior was thought to have been signed for the sole purpose of providing competition for Alba, with Valverde even encouraging his seniors to press ahead with a move despite having alternatives within his ranks.
Now it’s claimed by Spanish news outlet Sport that club officials are perplexed and concerned by his reluctance to play the 23-year-old, further straining his already rocky relationship with the board.
Though Valverde appreciates the youngster has plenty of power and speed, he is said to have concerns over the Spain Under-21 international’s technical ability.
Junior scored his first goal for the Catalans in a 2-0 victory at Getafe on 28 September, but even that performance has not prevented Valverde from preferring Nelson Semedo as Alba’s deputy, despite his natural position being on the opposite flank.
This latest revelation follows on from ?recent reports that have suggested Valverde could lose the backing of the club if he fails to fix La Blaugrana’s wayward form in the coming weeks. Moreover, countless Barça supporters have been outspoken in their desire for the boss to be sacked.
Failure to beat Slavia Praha in the Champions League midweek has made things worse, and the clash with Celta Vigo in ?La Liga is now viewed as a must win game for Valverde, even though his Barcelona side trail table-toppers Real Sociedad by just a single point, having played two less games than the Basque outfit.
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