FROM Birmingham to Barcelona, 16-year-old Louie Barry has had the most rapid of rises.
The teen striker, who joined West Brom at the age of six, was at the centre of a tug-of-war between Europe’s biggest clubs.
West Brom wonderkid Louie Barry completed his move to Barcelona[/caption]
Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Man United and Juventus all pursued Barry, desperate to get him on their books when he turned 16 last month.
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 last year.
He followed it up by winning the Golden Boot at the Vale-de-Marne tournament in November.
And, then, he scored four goals and hit three assists playing for West Brom’s U18s last season.
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.
Barry has represented both England and Ireland at youth level[/caption]
Baggies were annoyed with Barcelona’s premature announcement about Barry[/caption]
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 will pocket just £235,000 in compensation due to Fifa’s flat rate for payments to overseas clubs for young players.
That won’t be a problem for Barry, though, who will be promoted straight into Barca’s Under-19s squad next season and live at La Masia.
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 becomes 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.
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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, it’s all about settling into La Masia for the boy from Birmingham.