From West Brom, to Barcelona, to Aston Villa. At only 17 years of age, it’s already been quite the journey for Louie Barry, and one that Dean Smith and co will no doubt be the biggest beneficiaries of over the coming seasons.
The teenager started off his youth career at the Hawthorns, before a high-profile switch to Barcelona saw him become the first ever English player to join the Catalan giants’ famed La Masia academy.
Having only spent a few months at the Camp Nou, Villa made their move to bring the club’s boyhood fan back home, and the club’s academy manager, Mark Harrison, wasn’t shy in waxing lyrical about the starlet.
He said: “It (Louie’s signing) sends a powerful message about the ambition of this football club. We’re delighted – Louie is a local person and his family are all Villa fans, as is Louie. He is still a very young man but as he’s developed, he’s always been one player that you always recognise as having outstanding attributes. He’s got a fantastic mentality, he’s desperate to do well for this football club.
“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.”
Quite the lofty statement, but it is an indication of just how highly Villa rate Barry. Across Europe, another young striker is making his mark on the biggest stage: Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland.
The Norway international has been lighting up the Bundesliga despite only turning 20 a couple of months ago, and if anything, gives Villa a real comparison for the kind of meteoric rise a young player can enjoy if given the chance.
The fact Barry spent some time at Barcelona has already exposed him to a different culture, and at a club that demands a certain standard of its young players. That will hold him in good stead at Villa, and with Smith potentially facing a shortage of striking options, he could find his opportunity sooner rather than later.
Haaland is the bench-mark at the moment. But if Villa trust in the process, then they may not have to look very far for their own.
And in other news, this Aston Villa new boy may be better value for money than Ollie Watkins.