Louie Barry’s five months with Lionel Messi at Barcelona are paying off as his dazzling display against Liverpool proved… the 17-year-old Aston Villa prospect looks ready for more minutes
Louie Barry used to train on the same pitches as Lionel Messi and against Liverpool he showed exactly what he had learned from the Argentine master.
Running on to Callum Rowe’s pass, Barry outmuscled Rhys Williams and produced a finish to make Messi proud, a low strike into the bottom corner that gave Caoimhin Kelleher no chance and briefly brought Villa level.
At full-time, the 17-year-old exchanged shirts with Liverpool’s Fabinho and, on being reminded he might want to keep the one he wore on his debut, ran after the Brazilian to get it back.
Louie Barry announced himself to the first-team for Aston Villa with a goal against Liverpool
The 17-year-old Englishman burst free to give the Reds a fright in the FA Cup on Friday
Barry joined the club he supported as a child in January last year and possesses exciting talent
‘I guess my family were screaming at the TV when it hit the back of the net,’ said Barry. ‘It’s my proudest moment. When I celebrated, everything came out of me. When I scored I thought we might have even had a chance to win.’
Barry was not born when James Milner made his Premier League debut – a late substitute appearance for Leeds against West Ham in November 2002 – yet there is already more noise surrounding him than many players who have played dozens of first-team games.
After spending 10 years at West Brom, Barry – a lifelong Villa fan – moved to Barcelona in July 2019, for a basic training compensation fee of just £250,000.
Yet after barely five months training close to one of the greatest players in history, Barry was on his way back to the West Midlands to join the club of his heart, for £880,000.
All of Villa’s starting XI were making their first-team debut against Liverpool in the FA Cup
Barry’s emergence is earlier than planned, with Villa scrapping to keep his talent under wraps
Albion were furious, believing they had been outmanoeuvred in the market, and even considered taking action against Villa and Barcelona.
Since Barry returned to English football, Villa have been at pains to play down expectations. He was not near the first-team picture and, without the Covid outbreak that forced the senior squad into isolation, it is doubtful that he would have made his full debut this season.
The secret is out now, though. Even before his goal, Barry had served notice of his talent. Playing as a lone forward, he took on Fabinho early in the first half and went on a barnstorming run that resulted in a corner.
For an hour, Villa matched Liverpool – a remarkable effort for a team with an average age of 18.
The teenage striker was not even born when opponent James Milner debuted as a professional
Like Barry, Ben Chrisene, Lamare Bogarde and Kaine Kesler Hayden were not born when Milner had his introduction to top-flight football.
‘I’ve never had a challenge like it in my life – when you have no idea about the players you are playing against,’ said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. ‘But we had our Covid tests on Thursday, we trust the authorities, and the FA did what they thought is right.’
Some Villa youngsters had to be dropped off at the stadium on Friday night by their parents as they have not yet passed their driving tests.
Now they have learned about life in the fast line – and Barry looks as though he might just be able to stand the pace.