Torquay United 'lose' £50k after Liam Prynn deal breaks
THE planned £50,000 'transfer' of Torquay United starlet Liam Prynn to Aston Villa is off after the young Cornishman apparently suffered a bout of homesickness.
Centre-forward Prynn (pictured right), from Penryn, broke into the Gulls' youth team last season and was due to start a two-year 'scholarship' at Plainmoor this summer when Premier League giants Villa stepped in.
Villa had scouted him over the past year, and they were so keen to sign him that they were prepared to pay Torquay the sort of fee normally reserved for senior players.
Villa's rivals West Bromwich Albion had similar ambitions for Prynn earlier this year.
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The deal with Villa was agreed, and Prynn travelled up to Birmingham to begin his career with them during pre-season.
But United's Head of Youth Geoff Harrop revealed: "Liam just couldn't settle up there.
"Plenty of people from both clubs tried to help, and Villa did their best – they've been brilliant about the whole thing.
"But Liam just wasn't happy there.
"Of course, it's disappointing for everyone, but Liam is only just 16 and it's always a big thing for a lad of that age to move away from home for the first time.
"At the end of it all, the welfare of our boys is always the top priority."
Prynn is now back with the Gulls, but I understand that Villa will continue to keep tabs on him this season.
Of course, the money would have come in very useful for United, but the Prynn episode does highlight the potential problems of young players, many in their early or mid-teens, moving far away from home to big clubs.
It happens more often than many fans realise, especially with Premier League clubs involved.
Some kids can handle it. Others simply can't.
When you think of the strain on some of the African teenagers at clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea, it moves the homesickness issue into a whole new league.
Lionel Messi's dad actually moved with him from Argentina to Spain when Messi signed for Barcelona at the age of only 12, and he also had extended family living in Catalonia.
Even at Plainmoor, United's youth staff are used to looking after kids away from home for the first time.
The Gulls currently have eight Cypriot players, three from Northern Ireland and one from Eire on either their Youth or Development schemes.
One of the most talented players whom United have ever produced, Mark Loram, famously suffered dreadful homesickness following his move to QPR in 1985, when he was only 17.
Loram was so good that the sky must have been the limit if he'd been able to handle life in West London.
But for him, Shepherd's Bush could never compare with home comforts in Brixham, and Rangers eventually gave up trying to convince him otherwise.
Their loss was United's gain.