Barry was stuck on the fringes at Town... but his loan could prove vital in the long-run
- Credit: Pagepix
Louie Barry has left Ipswich Town to return to Aston Villa after his loan spell was cut short. Andy Warren looks at the teenager's time at Portman Road.
Ipswich Town signed 19 players during a hectic summer transfer window.
And it was always clear that some of those deals would not ultimately be successful. How can a club possibly add that many players to the small pool they retained, give them all significant playing time and keep them happy?
Sadly, Louie Barry is one of those who found himself on the fringes. Someone had to be there.
He arrived with great pedigree, having spent time at the famed La Masia Barcelona academy before becoming one of the hottest properties at Aston Villa. But, in a squad which also included plenty of new attacking talent with significant experience at higher levels of the game, Barry became an incredibly gifted afterthought.
His Villa recall has felt inevitable for months.
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He returns to his parent club having played just six matches for Town, a total which included just 68 minutes of League One football. It’s perhaps unfair to judge a teenager, playing senior football for the first time, on so few opportunities to impress.
There are some obvious reasons for his struggles, with attacking traffic the main one. The circumstances appear to be more of a factor than anything Barry did, right or wrong.
Wes Burns, Scott Fraser and Conor Chaplin had already been signed for the final third before Barry’s arrival in August, while Armando Dobra had yet to be loaned out to Colchester.
Sone Aluko was signed on the same day as the teenager, while Ipswich remained in discussions with Portsmouth’s Michael Jacobs despite the raft of incoming players. It was clear Town weren’t done, with Kyle Edwards ultimately arriving as the Blues quickly pivoted away from Jacobs.
That was seven players for three attacking positions behind Paul Cook’s striker, even before the deadline day signing of Bersant Celina put the cherry on top of a busy window. Barry didn’t play a single minute in the league after the Kosovan had arrived.
Rekeem Harper and Idris El Mizouni have both been used as attacking midfielders while Kayden Jackson has switched to the right wing at times. Hayden Coulson was deployed there at Plymouth in October, with Barry on that trip with Ipswich but not making the bench.
There was no way through.
The 18-year-old has also had injury troubles, including a dental problem which left him suffering dizzy spells.
Speaking recently, Town boss Kieran McKenna said of Barry: “He’s obviously a talented boy. He hasn’t played as much football as he would have hoped to have done but also will have learned an awful lot from his first move. I’ve had a couple of good discussions with him.
“I think the first loan move is very often about the experiences that you pick up off the pitch and everyone at the club speaks very highly of Louie and how he has conducted himself, and he’s positive about the experience that he’s had.”
And if that’s indeed the case, Barry’s time in Suffolk may just prove to be much more useful than his stats on paper suggest it’s been.
What went well
Despite fading into the background during much of his time at Portman Road, Barry did show plenty of flashes of talent when he did get on the pitch.
The best thing about Barry is how he looks to do something positive with the ball whenever he gets it. We’ve seen that in the majority of his appearances in Ipswich blue.
The teenager likes to pick up possession and drive into the box, a trait we saw in an excellent cameo from the bench in the EFL Trophy victory at Gillingham in October.
His touch is good, he knows the right areas to find in order to pick up the ball and he is positive.
Those are some good ingredients right there.
He’s also helped by a good attitude, which saw Cook and his staff enjoy working with the Aston Villa youngster prior to their departure.
Areas to improve
But despite those positive ingredients, the recipe just didn’t come together for Barry at Town.
So why was that?
Well, at 18, he maybe just wasn’t ready for the rough-and-tumble of League One football, where opposition defence don’t want to give tricky young attackers the time and space in which to show off their tricks and talent. He was certainly the victim of that at times.
He’s struggled to get into some games, notably at Burton where he touched the ball just nine times while operating as a No.10. Though one of those touches did win Ipswich a penalty.
Being on the fringes of games and being crowded out by defenders of course brings frustrations for talented players, used to being the best players on the pitch in age group football. That, as we’ve seen with plenty of young players in years past, can lead to keeping the ball too long on the limited occasions they actually get it and trying too hard to make the most of those chances.
Understandable, but that was certainly the case with Barry.
What the future holds
Barry’s loan move to Ipswich didn’t go to plan, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s one of the hottest properties at a Premier League club with a decent record of bringing young players through.
It’s almost certain the teenager will head out on loan again before January is out, with League Two promotion hopefuls Swindon Town a destination which has already been discussed. It will be interesting to see how he gets on if that deal is indeed completed.
The attacker’s long-term future is at boyhood club Aston Villa, though, so every move made will be with the goal of preparing him for the Premier League club’s first-team in the not-too-distant future.
He returns to a Villa side now managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who will no doubt be keen to have a look at a young player he will have heard rave reviews about before deciding whether or not to loan him out again.
It didn’t happen for Barry at Ipswich, but it may just be that his frustrating time at Town will be seen as a positive spell in the long-run.