Former Barcelona academy star Louie Barry, 17, could be unleashed as Aston Villa’s secret weapon against Premier League champions Liverpool
- Aston Villa travel to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League
- Hugely talented youngster Louie Barry could make his senior debut v Liverpool
- The 17-year-old striker has impressed in training for Aston Villa since his arrival
- Barry, who was previously at West Brom, spent time at Barcelona’s academy
He is the only Englishman to have played in Barcelona’s famous academy, he created havoc for Brendan Rodgers during lockdown and is only just old enough to drive.
Yet Louie Barry could prove the trump card in Aston Villa’s Premier League game of chance.
Described by Villa chief executive Christian Purslow as ‘the best 16-year-old in England’ when he signed him in January, Barry is the prolific striker who grew up with neighbours West Bromwich Albion.
Louie Barry is hoping to make his senior debut for Aston Villa against Liverpool on Sunday
He turned down Paris St Germain to join Barcelona last year but, failing to settle, returned to England and into Villa’s open arms, albeit for £4million. West Brom weren’t happy and no wonder.
His movement, talent and career trajectory have drawn comparisons with Michael Owen. In his first three games for Villa’s U23s, the kid from Sutton Coldfield scored three and added three assists.
Dean Smith, bereft of goals from Villa’s strikers this season, has drafted him into first team training where Barry partnered Keinan Davis and made his mark with his livewire style and, importantly, goals.
During their recent lockdown friendly, Leicester City’s defence was suitably ruffled. So much so that afterwards, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was overheard saying to Villa coach John Terry: ‘I like the little guy that was creating havoc up front’. ‘Yeah,’ replied Terry. ‘That’s Louie. He’s not even old enough to drive yet.’
Barry, who was previously at Barcelona, has made a major impact for Villa in first-team training
Having turned 17 last month, the driving licence application is in the post. More pertinently, Rodgers’ remark of approval visibly lifted Barry. It reaffirmed his belief he can make an impact at first team level if called upon.
His close friends, Birmingham City’s Borussia Dortmund-bound midfielder Jude Bellingham and Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott are already making an impression while Jamal Musiala, another of England’s U17 class, made his breakthrough for Bayern Munich last month.
Naturally, with so much riding on Villa’s results, Dean Smith is reluctant to apply undue pressure on Barry at such a tender stage of his career.
‘Louie has been an academy signing first and foremost but he is one with an awful lot of potential,’ said Smith.
Days after arriving at Villa, Barry scored the winner for the U23s in a behind-closed-doors fixture against Cardiff City. Asked his ambition, Barry replied: ‘I am fighting for the first team. What I want to do first at Villa is play really well and go up the ranks. My main ambition is to be in the first team by the end of the season.’
The 17-year-old striker has ‘an awful lot of potential’, according to Aston Villa boss Dean Smith
Despite Smith’s reticence, many Villa supporters believe that should come sooner rather than later with Barry being held up as their answer to Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood.
Sunday’s trip to champions Liverpool offers little salvation for Villa’s survival hopes but low expectations provide the perfect foil for Barry’s introduction.
With questions rightly asked of Villa’s recruitment and clouds surrounding sports director Jesus Garcia Pitarch in particular, the acquisition of a local boy with goals in his boots could offer a silver lining.
As Villa’s academy manager Mark Harrison said: ‘He’s really driven, he’s got great family support, but in terms of what he can achieve, we firmly believe that he can be an outstanding number nine for this football club.’
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