Lachlan Barr is not a well known name around A-League circles, but with his new opportunity, that is something that’s not going to last long.
With defensive acquisition Nick Ansell succumbing to a devastating Achilles rupture early into his Adelaide United career, Reds fans were rightly concerned about a hole in the team’s defensive setup for the rest of the 2021/22 A-League Men Season.
On December 29, United announced the signing of Lachlan Barr for the rest of the season as an injury replacement for Ansell.
To the casual observer, this is a run of the mill injury replacement signing. To anyone that has played against Barr in the NPL or followed his progression, the overwhelming statement is, “it is about time!”
Who is Lachlan Barr?
Barr is no stranger to Adelaide United, but its certainly been a long time between drinks. As a talented young defender, he was a member of Adelaide United’s 2013/2014 Youth League squad.
His path back to United has been anything but conventional, however.
After departing United, Barr signed for NPL SA side White City, where he began his senior career before leaving Australia for Germany.
Barr sought work outside of sport before resuming his football career at Internationale Berlin.
“He worked in a small ice cream shop in Berlin,” Internationale Berlin president Gerd Thomas said (translated from German).
“One day he met one of our players, with whom he sympathised. So, he followed him to training one day, just to see. And Lachlan finally joined the team.”
To continue his unconventional journey, Internationale Berlin coach Lars Mrosko was also a scout for English third-tier side and 2014 FA Cup Champions Bradford City.
Impressed with the young defender, he recommended him to Bradford, who eventually signed him.
In England, Barr was loaned out to Harrogate Town where he managed to score on debut in a 3-2 win against Darlington.
Barr did not have a great number of opportunities in England though. He returned home in 2018, and has been excelling in the NPL competitions since.
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Barr’s return to Australia
When you look at Barr’s performances since returning to Australia, it is pretty easy to argue his case for an A-League Men contract.
Barr returned to South Australia through the MetroStars in NPL SA. In his two seasons at Metro some of Barr’s achievements include 43 appearances and six goals as a key member of a strong backline.
Interestingly, he even scored a goal for Metro against Adelaide United in a friendly game. In his time at Metro, Barr was a standout, winning the Club Champion award and the Player’s Player of the Year award.
Barr eventually left Metro for Heidelberg United in NPL Victoria, but as the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19, he returned to the relatively unaffected South Australia.
He signed for Adelaide City, where in the last year and a half he has established himself as one of the premier players of NPL SA.
In 2021, Barr was named City’s Club Champion, Player’s Player of the Year and also the man of the match on Grand Final day in City’s penalty shoot-out win against the Adelaide Comets.
The 27-year-old was also the stand out player in the league’s stingiest defence, with Paul Pezo’s Adelaide City only conceding 20 goals in 22 regular season games.
Barr capped off a great season by finishing an equal third in the Sergio Melta, NPL SA’s player of the season award.
To go with his Grand Final performance, Barr was immense in the second leg of the semi-final, away to the Adelaide Comets, and without fellow centre back stalwart and captain Matthew Halliday. He helped City overturn a one goal deficit to defeat the Comets 3-2 on aggregate to gain entry to the Grand Final.
Finally, Barr was once again in the heart of defence of an Adelaide City side that nearly upset Tony Popovic’s Melbourne Victory at Marden in the FFA Cup, once again proving he is a superb defender.
Lachlan Barr at Adelaide United
While it is unlikely that Barr will be a walk-up starter, with games being constantly postponed and with over 20 A-League Men games and United still in contention for the FFA Cup, he’ll still have ample chance to feature.
Once he gets an opportunity, it will be evident that he belongs at the top level.
Carl Veart tends to begin games with a left footed left centre back and a right footed right centre back.
Currently, the two left footed centre back options are Michael Jakobsen and George Timotheou. On the right side, Barr joins Jacob Tratt.
It is more than likely that life under Veart will begin on the bench for Barr, but with Tratt able to deputize at right back and the likely congestion of fixtures as the APL tries to keep up with games being suspended due to COVID-19, it is likely we will see Barr feature regularly for the remainder of this season.
Barr has a huge opportunity, not just to showcase his own ability and talent, but to also advertise the quality of NPL SA outside the FFA Cup competition.
He is capable of continuing on with Adelaide United past his injury replacement contract after this season, or even earning an A-League contract elsewhere.
Whatever the results of this spell are, there is no argument that his chance is very well deserved and proof that there are multiple paths to success for young Australian footballers.
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