West Bromwich Albion have a major problem. No one can say otherwise.
They haven’t ever been able to keep hold of their brightest and best academy hopefuls, and it’s through no fault of their own for the most part.
The most damning case has come back to centre stage once again.
Louie Barry left the club for the sunny sights of Barcelona in the summer, but less than six months later, he’s back in the Midlands and appears set to join local rivals Aston Villa – despite West Brom not receiving any fee for him yet.
The 16-year-old was widely regarded as one of Albion’s most highly-rated prospects to ever come through the system, but he was allowed to run down his deal and leave.
It’s happened before, and there are countless examples – Izzy Brown, Yan Dhanda, Jerome Sinclair, and even Nathan Ferguson could soon join this list.
But currently, there’s a like-for-like situation brewing in the youth team right now with Rayhaan Tulloch attracting interest from the top-flight.
A whole host of Premier League clubs have scouted him this season – the worst part of it all is, he’s out of contract in the summer too.
The 19-year-old frontman has scored seven goals in 12 matches for the U23s in the Premier League 2, with him adding two to his tally on Monday night against Sunderland.
Across both levels of youth football, Tulloch has managed to bag 33 goals in 82 appearances, all whilst playing an array of positions in the front three, per Transfermarkt.
This is all too similar to Barry, who netted hatfuls for England U15s and U16s, according to an article by Goal.
Albion had offered him a new deal, but the lure of Barcelona was all too much, highlighting that something has got to change in the near future.
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West Brom need to be an attractive prospect for any rising star, whether that is financial terms, the opportunity to play in the first-team or playing at the highest level remains to be seen, but you’d imagine a combination of the above would do the trick.
That falls into sporting director Luke Dowling’s hands. If he doesn’t act soon, Tulloch will be just another Barry that slipped through the net.