Louie Barry made the headlines when Barcelona unveiled him as the latest summer signing for their Under-19 squad on Thursday.
In a move that angered West Bromwich Albion, where he had been on the books since he was just six-years-old, the Catalan giants unveiled the 16-year-old with the blaugrana shirt and announced him as their latest addition.
The move, however, was not entirely ratified at that time, leading to reports of the Championship club being left furious with the manner in which the deal, which will only be worth £235,000 ($295,000) in compensation, was concluded.
“Barry, born in Birmingham, is considered one of the pearls of English football with great potential,” the Spanish champions said in a statement. “The player, who has signed for three seasons, has passed the relevant tests with the medical team of FC Barcelona.”
Nevertheless, the attacker, who plays primarily as a centre forward but can also play off the right wing, is expected to be in the headlines for altogether more positive reasons in the years ahead as his career develops in Spain.
Barry might not be a household name just yet, but to those who follow youth football in England he was already a rising star. He had played nine times for England’s Under-16 side, scoring seven goals, and having netted 10 in five for the Under-15s last year, he also featured for West Brom’s Under-23 side last season.
Such quality had seen a raft of clubs across the continent chase his signature, with various reports suggesting that Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester United were among those left disappointed that he did not sign for them.
Indeed, it is even reported by Reuters that he had a medical with the Ligue 1 champions before making a u-turn on his decision and moving to La Masia, Barca’s academy.
Born in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, he had spent the last 10 years with the Baggies, who were desperate to keep him on their books. Club technical director Luke Dowling confirmed to the Express and Star that the youngster had been offered a three-year deal, with the first 12 months a scholarship followed by a two-year professional contract.
The lure of Barcelona, though, was too much to resist.
Having been involved in a tug of war at club level, he is also set to be involved in another dispute regarding his commitment at international level.
With an Irish grandparent, he represented the Republic of Ireland at Under-16 and Under-15 level, notably turning out in the Victory Shield in November 2018.
However, he is expected to continue with England after winning the Golden Boot at the Vale-de-Marne tournament that same month, following in the footsteps of Harry Kane to do so.
Which British players have played for Barcelona before?
There has not been a British player in the Barcelona first team since Gary Lineker left the club in 1989, having played over 100 La Liga matches in three years.
During the Englishman’s spell at the club, he crossed paths with former Manchester United and Wales striker Mark Hughes, who spent two seasons at Camp Nou, and ex-Scotland forward Steve Archibald, who scored 24 La Liga goals in 55 appearances.
However, Barry could get beaten to a senior first-team appearance by Marcus McGuane, who is currently on the books of Barcelona's B team, playing 24 times for them last season.
Another player with dual Irish-English nationality, the London-born midfielder signed for Barca from Arsenal 18 months ago. He has played in the Supercopa de Catalunya final for the first team but not in a more recognised competition.