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Barcelona target Firpo could be the next Sergio Ramos, says former coach

4:00 AM EDT 7/18/19
Junior Firpo Real Betis 2018-19
Having worked with the Dominican Republic-born sensation since 2015, Juan Jose Romero has no doubt that he will go on to achieve great things

Junior Firpo has been tipped to emulate the brilliant career of Sergio Ramos by former Real Betis youth guru Juan Jose Romero, who believes that the Barcelona target is even better than the Real Madrid legend in some aspects.

Firpo, 22, has become a top priority at Camp Nou as Barca were impressed with his performances in the Spain Under-21 side that romped to European Championship success this summer. 

Born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, the left-back can also play in the centre of defence and in midfield, and is regarded as one of Spain's top prospects for the future. 

Negotiations between Betis and Barca will open soon and Romero, who knows Firpo better than most after the pair worked together in the Seville club's youth ranks, sees a sparkling future for the youngster.

"He is the footballer who most impressed me in his first training session," Romero, now coaching at Ceuta, explained to  Goal

"He looked like a beast of a footballer from the very first moment. He has the formidable maturity and personality which give him the chance to go far, he has a bullet-proof character, he is a defender of great quality and has confidence in himself. 

"That confidence can be a problem sometimes because he believes in himself a lot but it is a trait which could be positive if he handles it correctly. Sometimes he looks cocky and that leads him to make very visible mistakes.

"But he could end up having a career similar to that of Sergio Ramos. He also came to Real Madrid and the national team as a full-back, to end up in the middle of defence and, even though Junior doesn't have the defensive power of Ramos as a centre-back, neither did Ramos have the attacking threat Junior is showing."

Despite his tender age, Romero has no doubt that Firpo will be a success at Barca, after initial interest from Madrid in the youngster as a possible heir to Marcelo faded. 

"If he keeps his head down we are talking about a left-back with great physical conditioning, quick, good in the air and with good technique. It is very hard to find players with so much ability," he added. 

"[Former Betis coach] Quique Setien and I brought him up to the first team when he showed the talent to play in the middle, at Betis we used to play with three centre-backs and he played on the left, he played some great games.

"He also played in midfield and even as a centre-forward [in the Betis youth teams].

"I spoke with Setien more than once about Junior's future, he is one of those players of whom you can say the bigger the stage, the better the artist plays. 

"I would tell any big club not to think twice over Junior, he has been in the first team less than a year and a half and you just have to look at his progression."

Firpo made his Betis debut in February 2018 and has played 43 games to date in all competitions, scoring five goals.