Despite his side spending the majority of the season battling against relegation from the Premier League, the former Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion loan star has still managed to shine by scoring 12 goals and providing three assists in 39 appearances in all competitions during the campaign.
Despite being views as a key player within the Foxes squad, Barnes was surprisingly left out of Dean Smith’s starting eleven when his side battled their way to a goalless draw against Newcastle on Monday night as the Magpies claimed the point they needed to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
Speaking ahead of the game, Smith explained his decision to name Barnes and fellow United transfer target James Maddison among his substitutes, telling Sky Sports: “I had to think long and hard about it. Watching the (Newcastle) game against Brighton, the first two goals are from set-pieces and I wanted another centre-back in the team. They (Barnes and Maddison) were professional about it. I want them to be disappointed if they’re not playing but they see the bigger picture and understand why.
“With both Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy, we’re not coming here just to not get beat but to win the game. We want to create chances as well and be competitive against a good team. The good thing is before the weekend started it wasn’t in our hands but it is for now. We want to keep it that way.”
Barnes and Maddison could well be handed a recall to Smith’s starting eleven as City look to keep alive their hopes of remaining in the Premier League by claiming a home win against West Ham United on Sunday afternoon - but even collecting three points may not be enough to preserve their top tier status if relegation rivals Everton secure a victory against Bournemouth at Goodison Park.
Barnes is sure to be handed an opportunity to return to the Premier League if the Foxes drop into the Championship and Newcastle are believed to be long-term admirers of the talented winger. However, The Guardian have now claimed West Ham United will move for the 25-year-old after they made a decision to retain faith with manager David Moyes. The former Sunderland boss is set to be backed in the transfer market this summer and a move for Barnes could come alongside a deal for Fulham’s Portuguese international Joao Palhinha and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.
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