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Louie Barry interview: Aston Villa loanee discusses La Masia, comparisons with Jamie Vardy and being inspired by Harry Kane

Sky Sports exclusive: Aston Villa loanee Louie Barry discusses Stockport County, comparisons with Jamie Vardy, his time at La Masia in Barcelona and the inspiration he takes from Harry Kane's loan journey to stardom.

When you look at the journey he has been on already, it is hard to believe that Louie Barry is still just 20 years of age.

There have been five loan moves, nearly 100 career appearances and a goal in his only game so far for parent club Aston Villa in an infamous Covid-affected FA Cup tie against Liverpool, putting in a performance that saw Jurgen Klopp describe him as a 'little Jamie Vardy'.

One thing on his CV stands out more than any other. In 2019 he became the first English player to join La Masia - Barcelona's world-famous academy. Not exactly a normal move for a kid from Sutton Coldfield.

"The first time I heard they were interested, there was only one place I was going," Barry tells Sky Sports after winning the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month award for September.

"Every day was amazing. There was so much focus on keeping hold of the ball. Before every session, they had an hour of rondos, where you were only allowed to keep the ball on the floor. Anything else and you went into the middle.

"It was all about possession and wearing the opposition down, be patient and score three goals in the last 10 minutes. It was quite different to what I had been used to in England, which was a little more direct.

"The food was also a bit different! I wasn't a massive fan of that. But culture-wise I fitted in quite well with the lads. It was such a great experience.

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Louie Barry
Image: Barry during his time at Barcelona in 2019

"We trained near the first-team pitch, and I could go and watch them every time. It was a mad experience, and a lot of my team-mates from there are with the first team now or have gone on to play there.

"Gavi was two years younger but I was in the group with him every day. I was also with the likes of Ansu Fati, Alejandro Balde, Nico Gonzalez and Arnau Tenas. A lot of the others are in the 'B Team' now or they've moved on. It was such a good group and they really helped me fit in.

"To train with that level of player really helped me develop. Even now a few years later I don't think it has really sunk in that I was in that situation."

Barry currently finds himself on loan at Stockport County, his fifth move away from Villa and by far his most fruitful.

Louie Barry expertly converted his one chance to restore parity for Villa
Image: Barry scored on his only appearance so far for Aston Villa in 2021

He sees himself as a striker; but his versatility has counted against him at times so far as he has been shifted out to the wing. It hasn't allowed him the opportunity to get the sort of numbers he wanted, which is something he knows is so important in the current landscape.

"Last season I played a lot of games but didn't get the stats I'd have liked," admits Barry - who spent the first half of the season with MK Dons, and the second part of the campaign with Salford City.

"That was a big thing for me in coming here this season. I wanted to go to a team where I thought I could excel, to get those numbers up."

He already has nine in League Two, including a record-breaking run of seven goals in seven games between August 19 and September 30.

Stockport are currently top of the league under Dave Challinor, with Barry and his strike partner Isaac Olaofe (Tanto) having 18 goals between them already.

Barry's record-breaking goal run

  • Vs Barrow - Aug 19
  • Vs Mansfield - Aug 26
  • Vs Crawley - Sep 2
  • Vs AFC Wimbledon - Sep 9
  • Vs MK Dons - Sep 16
  • Vs Wrexham - Sep 23
  • Vs Accrington - Sep 30

It was Challinor who convinced Barry that a switch to Edgeley Park was the right move for him.

"That was the first conversation I had," Barry says. "He said they'd give me the platform and the freedom to play.

"I'm back playing as a striker, whereas before in senior football, I'd been shifted to the left. I'm still peeling off to that side, but I'm starting from the middle. I've got a great relationship with Tanto up top, and everything has come together nicely."

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Watch highlights of the Sky Bet League Two match between Stockport and Grimsby Town

If you are of a certain generation then the way Barry describes his style of play will likely remind you of Thierry Henry.

Barry smiles, admitting he was a little too young to watch him play during his heyday at Arsenal - "But at Villa, they showed me a few clips of him because of the similarity of peeling to the left and going for that far corner," he responds.

"I actually think I'm a bit more like Vardy. I play in a similar way to him, with his movement, being a bit of a nuisance. That's what I built my game around when I was younger.

"He had an underdog story that I really like."

Image: Barry has earned comparisons with Jamie Vardy

Whereas Vardy worked his way through the leagues, Barry has started at the top and is going on a slightly different journey.

Life as a constant loanee can often make or break a young player, but Barry looks to Harry, Kane of course, for further inspiration.

"He went on a similar journey to me when he was younger, and look at him now," says Barry. "He had a few loans, some good and some bad. They were all learning experiences like I've had.

"But I know he worked really hard. I think going out on loan shows you're dedicated. It's why I'm doing this. If I could have half the career either Kane or Vardy have had I'd be proud."

For now, Barry's focus is on the present. The youngster was at Salford City last season as they lost out to Stockport in the play-offs semi-finals, but then watched on as they fell just short at Wembley a couple of weeks later.

He is determined now to make sure they go one better, and be the driving force of their promotion.

"At the start of the season I said 20 goals and assists would be a really good season for me," says Barry.

"But with how I've started I think I can get 20 goals in this team. I just have to keep working on my finishing and link-up every day. It's still a long way off, but with the confidence I have at the moment I think I can achieve that.

"The aim is to be champions, and we've got the team and the talent to do it. The gaffer is brilliant and so are his staff, and the fans are amazing and deserve the success.

"I feel like we can achieve it, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing now."

A man determined to make his mark, and when you hear him speak you don't doubt his words for a second.

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