WEST BROM wonderboy Louie Barry celebrated his 16th birthday today - and was immediately rewarded with a golden-handshake deal to stay at the Hawthorns.
Spanish giants Barcelona are leading the scramble to snap up the England Under-16 striker.
Barry has emerged as one of the hottest young prospects in Europe after starring in two prestigious European tournaments.
Under controversial Fifa rules, a club from a fellow European Economic Area nation can snap up a 16-year-old for a compensation fee of £235,000 one year before he can become a fully-fledged professional for an English club.
However the Barcelona target barely had time to blow out the candles on his birthday cake when Albion’s academy bosses offered their teenage sensation the equivalent of a three-year deal in a bid to close the loophole and fight off the Catalan giants.
Slaven Bilic’s academy staff has offered their birthday boy-wonder a one-year scholarship followed by a two-year professional contract which is activated when Barry turns 17.
It remains to be seen if that will be enough to keep the Bishop Walsh Catholic School pupil out of Barca’s clutches.
Barry came to the attention of the famous Nou Camp club last year.
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The star scored ten goals in five games for England Under-15s at a tournament in Italy.
When he followed that up by winning the golden boot at the Vale-de-Marne tournament in November, Barcelona made it known they intended to target the young English scoring sensation.
However Bilic’s Baggies are refusing to let the Spanish champions pluck Barry away without a fight.