From West Brom to making FA Cup history via Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy – the story of Louie Barry

The average football fan would have been lying if they insisted they knew any players in the youthful Villa side that lined up against Liverpool in the FA Cup on Friday.

But after their superb display, there is one name they’ll remember now. Louie Barry.

The 17-year-old made everyone stand up and pay attention when he latched onto a defence splitting pass to finish in a way we expect a proven Premier League goal scorer to finish.

For West Brom and Aston Villa fans, they’ve known about Barry for a long time, and know he is tipped to be a big star.

But for others, they may not know much about the 17-year-old who a few years ago was in the middle of a power grab between Paris St Germain and Barcelona.

The striker joined the Baggies at the age of six, and was the standout player in what is a highly respected academy in English football.

According to various sources, Barry was always the one talked in terms of ‘making it’.

He became one of the most prolific young goal scorers in the country and at international level, representing both England and the Republic of Ireland.

After a decade at the Hawthorns, Albion struggled to keep hold of one of the hottest young properties in European football.

Domestic rules prevented West Brom from giving Barry a professional contract until his 17th birthday.

However, international regulations meant that he could negotiate with clubs overseas in the meantime.

With Albion unable to tie down their young prized asset, PSG came swooping in and held lengthy talks with Barry.

But he penned a deal for Barca – a huge move for the youngster but one that has, to this day, left a sour taste at the Hawthorns.

After ten years of development the Baggies are entitled to a mere £130,000. He signed in July 2019, but to this day, according to reports, one of the richest clubs in the world are yet to pay for his services.

A wrangle over his registration meant he didn’t play for Barca for three months. Then, six months after moving to Spain, Barry was on his way back.

He had made the short trip from Albion to Villa, but it had come via Barcelona.

He signed for his boyhood club for around £700,000, with the fee potentially rising to £3 million.

Villa had tried to sign the youngster a number of times previously but he had remained lo Albion.

In the long run, Villa got their man for a lower price than they would have paid at a tribunal had he signed their directly.

According to reports in The Athletic last year, those close to Barry insisted he was unsettled in Spain and jumped at the chance to come back.

Albion, apparently always predicted a swift return to the UK, and have remained sceptical about the whole thing.

Aside from the situation regarding his transfers, which a lot of the time have probably been out of the young man’s control, Barry has quietly been building his already glowing reputation.

He bagged seven in ten games for England under 16s and then four in seven for the under 17 side.

Before Friday’s outing he had lined up for Villa in the EFL Trophy, but the meeting with the League Champions was the first time anyone has really had a look at him on the big stage.

And did he deliver.

When he took his goal he looked every inch a top quality Premier League centre forward.

Jurgen Klopp then even described him as a mini Jamie Vardy.

Barry, to many in the Midlands, has long been known as a top class player.

Now, maybe fortunately, he has been thrust into the limelight due to the Villa training ground Covid outbreak.

Had that not occured, it may have been a bit longer before we were able to see what Barry could do on the big stage.

But make no mistake, this isn’t a striker who would have disappeared. He was always going to have a big future and a big career.

Lucky for football fans and more importantly for Villa fans, that bright future has been brought forward slightly.

Many people might not remember much about the 2021 FA Cup Third Round, but they’ll remember one thing.

The name Louie Barry.

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