Aston Villa fans were left reeling by the exit of club captain and talisman Jack Grealish last summer when he joined Manchester City, but Steven Gerrard may already have a natural heir for the £100m man up his sleeve in teenage wonderkid Louie Barry.
The forward, who joined Villa after a spell in Barcelona’s La Masia academy, has already won a lot of plaudits for his performances in the academy and out on loan, after spending the second half of last season with Swindon Town in League Two, helping them to a playoff position in England’s fourth tier.
Barry is already well-known to Villa fans after marking his senior debut with a goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup during the 2020/21 season, when the Villans were forced to start an academy side after a virus outbreak at the club.
The youngster contributed 23 goals and six assists in just 30 appearances for the academy sides before Villa decided he was ready for a taste of senior football and it certainly didn’t take him long to adjust, as he contributed six goals and one assist for Swindon last season.
Swindon boss Ben Garner was full of praise for the teenager after a sensational performance against Walsall, saying:
“He’s very coachable, very very coachable and takes things on. Tactically very intelligent.
“The confidence of the goal at Carlisle last week and then these two finishes on Tuesday, for a young lad at 18-years-old, to go in like that and show that composure, is wonderful.”
Birmingham Live reporter Ashley Preece also suggested that the “hype is real” regarding Barry after he scored twice against his old side West Brom in an academy fixture, which suggests that Villa fans can be really excited about his future at the club.
Although he was initially seen as a striker, Barry featured predominantly on the left-hand side for Swindon and showed that he could finish with devastating effect with both feet with this brace against Walsall – something which Villa fans became accustomed to seeing on a regular basis during Grealish’s spell at the club.
WhoScored suggests that Barry’s strengths include his shooting, dribbling and ability to play through balls, so the similarities with Grealish are clear to see.
While he might need another loan or two at a higher level before making his mark on Villa’s first-team squad, all the signs suggest that Barry will have a very good career, and there seems no reason why he can’t emulate what Grealish achieved at his boyhood club.