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Junior Firpo flattered by Barcelona interest: “It’s a compliment”

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Junior Firpo admits it’s “a source of pride” to see his name being linked to Barcelona, but added that he remains focused on Real Betis.

Reports in the Spanish press have strongly linked Firpo with a summer move to Barcelona. It comes following a breakthrough campaign for Betis, which earned him a reputation as one of La Liga’s best left-backs.

Blaugrana manager Ernesto Valverde only fueled the speculation on Friday by revealing that a new left-back is the club’s top target for the transfer window.

And Barcelona’s interest in Firpo will only likely have increased following his starring role in Spain’s Under-21 European Championship title this summer.

However, the 22-year-old refuses to get carried over the La Liga champions’ alleged interest in him.

“I’m not unsettled,” Junior told Mundo Deportivo.

“That news is coming out and the truth is that it is a compliment and a source of pride to be linked to important clubs such as Barcelona.

“But I am focused on Betis because it is my club and I also have huge gratitude because they have given me everything.

“I think it’s a sign that I’m doing things right. I think I’m in a great club and in a great team and that has helped me a lot.

“Last season we had an inconsistent campaign but we had great victories in the league, we were close to reaching the Copa del Rey final and we played in European competition.

“It went well for me and therefore that has helped me. But I insist, I am focused on Betis because that is precisely what has made me get here.”

Barcelona’s desire for a new left-back is down to the fact that Jordi Alba is their only recognised option. The Spain international, though, is clearly at the top of his game and signed a new five-year contract in February.

But Firpo reckons he improve as Alba’s understudy at Camp Nou despite the potential limited game time.

“For me, Jordi is the best left-back in the world, a great player capable of defending and also attacking dangerously,” said Firpo.

“If one day I play with him, apart from competing with him, I’m sure I could learn a lot by his side.

“What I cannot deny is that it is an honour and a source of pride to be associated with Barcelona, which is a great club and has a great team. I am now at the top in Betis and what has to happen will happen.”

UDINE, ITALY – JUNE 30: Junior Firpo of Spain competes for the ball with Luca Waldschmidt of Germany during the 2019 UEFA U-21 Final between Spain and Germanyat Stadio Friuli on June 30, 2019 in Udine, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)