FROM Birmingham to Barcelona (and back again), 17-year-old Louie Barry had the most rapid of rises.
The teen striker, who joined West Brom at the age of six and scored for Aston Villa against Liverpool in the FA Cup, was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Europe’s biggest clubs.
Louie Barry has had an incredible rise towards the top of the professional gameCredit: Reuters
The 17-year-old scored against Liverpool in the FA Cup on Friday nightCredit: AFP
A mere glance at the skilful forward’s prolific numbers shows why.
For England Under-15s, Barry hit ten goals in just five games at a tournament in Italy.
He followed it up by winning the Golden Boot at the Vale-de-Marne tournament later in the same year.
And, then, he scored four goals and hit three assists playing for West Brom’s U18s.
BOUNCING TO BARCA
The Baggies were so desperate to keep hold of Barry, from Sutton Coldfield, they threw everything they could at him.
On his 16th birthday, Albion academy bosses offered the teenager a one-year scholarship followed by a two-year professional deal.
But that didn’t come close to the financial clout of PSG.
An incredible £2.7m was put on the table by the French giants and Barry even travelled to Paris for a medical before changing his mind.
Ex-West Brom wonderkid Louie Barry joined Barcelona’s youth ranksCredit: Social Media / FC Barcelona
Barry has represented both England and Ireland at youth levelCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription
Baggies were annoyed with Barcelona’s premature announcement about BarryCredit: Social Media / FC Barcelona
It was the romance of La Masia’s legendary halls that convinced Barry that Barca was the club for him.
A tour of the La Liga champions’ training ground, where the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta were formed, was enough for Barry.
But the announcement has caused some controversy after West Brom were left fuming about Barca’s decision to make the news public.
It added insult to injury as the Baggies pocketed just £235,000 in compensation due to Fifa’s flat rate for payments to overseas clubs for young players.
And Barry would later return to the Midlands to West Brom’s rivals Aston Villa in January 2020.
It is clear to see why the Catalans were so keen on Barry.
His ability on the ball, to dribble round defenders, drop the shoulder and shift the ball, echoes the tiki-taka football Barca is famous for.
Barry became the second Englishman in a year to move to the Camp Nou after Marcus McGuane signed from Arsenal in January 2018.
Former Man City forward Toni Duggan left Barca this summer after two years at the club.
And Barry joins an exclusive list of Britons to appear in the famous red and blue, including Gary Lineker, Mark Hughes, Steve Archibald and bosses Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables.
Barry had been with West Brom since the age of sixCredit: https://www.wba.co.uk/
But Barry does still have one more decision to make.
So far, the youngster has represented both England and Ireland at youth level and may well find himself with the same dilemma Declan Rice faced.
For now, though, it’s about enjoying the glory of scoring for his boyhood team in the FA Cup against the English champions.