What an opportunity this is for Aston Villa’s young players as they play host to Liverpool in the FA Cup tonight, LIVE on talkSPORT.
TEN senior Villa players have tested positive for coronavirus, meaning the club is having to shuffle the pack and then some for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
It’s not clear who will play in the clash at Villa Park but one star Villans fans will be hoping gets the nod is Louie Barry, 17.
Barry, no relation to former Villa midfielder Gareth, comes with plenty of pedigree having signed for Barcelona aged 16 years old.
It’s understood he snubbed the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United to play at Barca’s famous La Masia academy. Last year the striker made a return to England as he joined Villa, who he’s supported his whole life.
But what else is there to know about Barry? talkSPORT.com has done a little research on the starlet who’s been tipped to ‘do bits’ against Liverpool in the FA Cup.
1) He’s highly rated by former Aston Villa star Gabby Agbonlahor
Agbonlahor keeps an eye on Villa’s Under-23 side where Barry has starred this season, scoring six goals in nine Premier League 2 matches.
And the talkSPORT host is expecting lots from Barry in the cup tie.
Agbonlahor told talkSPORT 2: “He’s been in sensational form this season. He’s one to watch, you’ll see him do bits [against Liverpool].
“Hopefully Liverpool play Fabinho at the back and hopefully they [the Villa players] are going to make a name for themselves.”
2) He started his career at West Brom
Yes, despite being a Villa fan, Barry was actually at Midlands rivals West Brom for ten years. Unsurprisingly, the lure of Barcelona was too much for him and he moved in the summer of 2019.
A dispute between the Baggies and Barca surrounding his fee is still ongoing – the Spanish giants are understood to have not paid the £235,000 the two clubs agreed yet. The matter has been reported to FIFA.
3) He first made it into West Brom’s Under-23 squad aged just 15
There was clearly a lot of faith in Barry at West Brom when he was included in the squad for their EFL Trophy clash against Blackpool in the 2018/19 season.
But as you’ll see later, Barcelona showed faith in him too.
4) He’s been described as ‘one of the best young players in English football’
This was what Barcelona said when they signed Barry from West Brom.
No wonder loads of clubs were after him.
5) He was linked with Paris Saint-Germain before joining Barcelona
Well, he wasn’t just linked with the French giants.
Barry is understood to have had a medical with PSG before Barcelona swooped in and convinced the player that Spain was the better option. Sacré bleu!
6) He’s the first ever English player to join Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ academy
The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have walked through the doors at Barca’s famed academy.
And Barry is the first English player to have join up, so there’s no doubting he has bags of potential.
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7) He represented Barcelona at Under-19 level aged 16
Barry was fast-tracked into the squad three years above his age group which demonstrates the faith they had in him.
He featured in all three of their UEFA Youth League fixtures last season before going back to Villa last January.
8) He’s an England Under-17 international
Barry is rising up the ranks at England youth level and has appearances for their Under-17 squad under his belt.
He scored ten times in five games playing for England Under-15s at a tournament in 2018 so clearly knows where the goal is.
9) He’s eligible to play his international football with the Republic of Ireland
There will no doubt be a tug of war for his international allegiances too, much like there was for Declan Rice and Jack Grealish.
Barry is playing for England right now but has represented the Republic of Ireland as an Under-15 and Under-16.