Villa’s CEO Christian Purslow has been crystal clear on the club’s need to begin to see promising youngsters translate into first team players.
Indeed, the former Chelsea and Liverpool director was to the point in remarks that the Academy had a glut of players reaching the age of 21 and then not threatening to break into the senior squad.
The rather embarassing thing is that he’s right. Worse still, we have been sentimental about our under-whelming academy for too long.
There have been innumerable false flags for years, be it from Samir Carruthers, Gary Gardner right up to the present day, with Hepburn-Murphy, O’Hare etc.
Whilst refocusing our strategy towards developing the best 16-18 year olds, the club have also made huge strides in terms of infrastructure.
The significant redevelopment of the Under-23 facilities at Bodymoor Heath brought Villa’s training infrastructure into competition with some of the very best.
Villa this week completed a clear-out of 14 players, some of them familiar, but many were names that had fallen into the catagory of forever being the ‘next big thing’.
This made way for a new crop of talent, with Villa announcing that 7 professional contracts had been offered to; Bradley Burton, Kaine Kesler, Myles Sohna, Harrison Sohna, Charlie Farr, Tristan Goodridge and Louie Barry. Tellingly, whilst all of them are old enough to drive, only two can vote.
The most high profile of the group is Birmingham-born Louie Barry, signed from Barcelona for a less than insignificant €1m Euros.
Described on signing from West Bromwich Albion by Barcelona as;
“one of the best young English players”
Barry, who turned down contract offers at PSG and Albion in favour of a move to the Catalan giants, does appear to be a very exciting prospect indeed.
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Barry moved to Villa in January 2020, with the young striker tipped to be an obvious number 9, assuming his development curve is maintained.
The forward continues to impress at youth international level for England, scoring 7 in 10 games at U-16s and 4 in 7 at U-17s.
Confirmation today that this young group, Barry amongst them, have signed professional terms is therefore welcome news.
The next stage is that their development, individually or as a collective, must though see them transition from ‘hot prospects’ to ‘first team regulars’.
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