American youngster Danny Barbir has revealed that a clearer pathway to first-team football was the reason for his move from Manchester City to West Bromwich Albion this summer.
Boasting an EU passport through his Romanian father, the 16-year-old defender drew interest from multiple European teams last year, including Aston Villa and Fulham, but eventually settled on big-spenders City, where he began playing for the youth setup from January onwards.
‘It was such an honour to play for Manchester City but I am looking forward to life at West Brom,’ he told American Soccer Now. ‘I think the most important thing about coming to West Brom is that that they had a pathway for me to the first team. I am playing with older players, which will make me better physically. So that is one of the main reasons why I went to West Brom.’
A tall, left-footed centre-back, the Pennsylvania-native admits that it was originally a tough decision to leave the States at such a young age, but stresses that the opportunity to develop his game in an English top-flight academy was simply too good to pass up.
‘When I was younger, I never wanted to move out of the States,’ he said. ‘As I matured, I was thinking to myself, “How am I going to become a professional?” I was thinking I have to move overseas. Even if I don’t want to, I have to. I have to force myself. I don’t get homesick. I miss my family but this is something I have to do for me to become a pro.’
Tipped to become a future US national team standout down the road, Barbir was also courted by Romania, but has revealed that he only ever considered representing the stars and stripes.
‘I’ve been offered to play for Romania but I’ve turned that down because the USA is where I come from,’ he added. ‘It’s always the United States—no matter what. I want to represent where I am from and where I am born. It’s the best feeling to wear that crest.’