Louie Barry moved to Barcelona, but attracted interest from many other clubs. The youngster, one of the most coveted in the world, is learning more of his trade at Aston Villa.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Louie Barry arrived in Barcelona as one of the most promising young forwards in the world at 16, signing from West Bromwich Albion despite an offer from French giants Paris Saint Germain worth a reported £3,200,000. Both sides offered a huge move from the Midlands to progress as a footballer, but the opportunity to train within the world-renowned La Masia academy at the Catalan behemoths was too good to turn down – despite the financial package being significantly smaller than the one offered in Paris.
The staff and fans at Barcelona were very aware of his talent, but at the age of 16 and playing alongside players up to three years his senior, Barry was starved of playing time and was frequently used in the dying embers of games that were already in Barcelona’s hands. This was the only opportunity for Barry to impress, and impress he did – managing to still score goals and look like a player worthy of La Masia, despite the lack of minutes.
As Barry joined, two months later so did Gerard Fernandez of UE Cornella, who was offered more game-time as his play-style suited Barcelona’s Juvenil side more, despite Barry being faster, having more potential and being a more accomplished finisher.
During pre-season, Louie Barry was playing alongside last months La Liga Player of the Month, Ansu Fati, the latest youngster to take the Camp Nou by storm. Barry was unable to play in competitive youth fixtures, however, waiting for over ten weeks to receive clearance from FIFA to be able to play.
Changes with internal staff further constricted his opportunities – but despite his lack of actual playing time, the youngster was learning a lot in training, ‘coming on leaps and bounds and improving in confidence’. He was considered good enough to succeed at Barcelona, but wasn’t given the opportunity to do so – and joined Aston Villa for a fee of around £3,000,000 just six months later.
Back when he signed, Aston Villa were running deliriously low on attacking threat – with Wesley out for the rest of the season and Keinan Davis struggling for fitness – meaning that Anwar El Ghazi and youngster Indiana Vassilev forced to lead the line before Mbwana Samatta eventually joined the club.
Fans clamoured for Barry to be thrown in at the deep end and given his Premier League debut as they thirsted for a regular goal threat in a barren run of form. After the season was curtailed by the worldwide pandemic still plaguing the country and the Premier League was eventually allowed to return, Barry – amongst others in the youth set-up, were called up to work alongside Smith and the first-team regulars in their training sessions.
Vassilev was given the nod to deputise over Barry as his age, and the way that his body has advanced and developed made him a better option for the Premier League survival that eventually occured. The American winger impressed, making a handful of appearances before leaving for Burton Albion on loan this summer.
As a boyhood Aston Villa fan, the want for such an exciting talent to be involved in the first team is obvious – but there is an obvious necessity to wait for the youngster to continue his development despite already having the profile, especially on social media, as a world beater.
The current youth-set up involving Mark Harrison, Mark Delaney and George Boateng believe there are three or four players that, with the way that they are currently developing, could make it into Dean Smith’s first team squad – but loans to play ‘real men’s football’ and further experience at higher levels are required before we’re likely to see any of them – and unless there’s a huge injury crisis akin to last year, it’s a certainty that none will be seen in a senior game inside the Premier League this season.
Hopefully those three or four will come good, and hopefully, one of the most coveted teenagers in the world in Louie Barry will be one of them. There’s a lot of pressure on the youngster’s shoulders, but we’ve seen how pressure can make a young Villan thrive in this academy.