Why Leicester’s Harvey Barnes is not ready for top six club

Harvey Barnes of Leicester City looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on May 28, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Harvey Barnes of Leicester City looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United at The King Power Stadium on May 28, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Leicester City will suffer an incoming exodus as the transfer window opens. However, here is why Harvey Barnes is not ready for a top Premier League club.

Match-winner, academy graduate, explosive talent, and still so much growth to come; that is what characterises the Foxes’ only star winger. The English left-sided forward has become a guaranteed starter and one of our most crucial assets, yet is of course so much better than the EFL Championship.

As such, we know the King Power club will see the player leave in the coming window if an appropriate bid is made. However, there remains questions regarding his quality and which side could look to gain the star. For example, many supporters see Barnes as a top six players, some otherwise view him as an upper mid-table player for a side such as Aston Villa or Brighton & Hove Albion.

Leicester City’s inconsistent ace

So many times Barnes has won the day for Leicester. Last minute goals, absolute rockets, and devastating passages of play are all parts of his repertoire. Nevertheless, there has been something missing from his game.

For example, in the Aston Villa 1-2 defeat 04/04/23, the player scored a great goal and was one of our best players and only one trying to make an impact in that fixture. Conversely, in the following 0-1 loss to Bournemouth 08/04/23, the Englishman gave the ball away several times and failed to make any impact despite being an explosive player.

Consistency is key for a top six player. Barnes is not consistent. Sometimes being the star of the show alongside our undoubtably top six James Maddison, then other times being disastrously engaged in the team. That is not good if you want to play for a side consistently challenging at the top of the EPL.

We saw the incredulous result of that before our eyes as two fifth place finishes made way quickly for the Foxes’ decline. Leicester City stopped challenging due to too many players being inconsistent and lacking in quality throughout the course of the season.

A defensive liability

You play as a team, attack as a team, and should defend as a team. Every player has a responsibility to pressure the opposition and attempt to disrupt attacking passages of play. Those that do not are clearly a liability to the side.

According to FB Ref judged per game compared to LW’s from the top five leagues, the English goal scorer is rated amongst the 18th and 17th percentiles for tackling and interceptions respectively, only winning possession 0.6 times per game. Essentially, Barnes is seldom involved in defensive actions, and is one of the least defense-supporting left wingers in the top five leagues.

To take this further, when you are in possession in defensive scenarios or playing in the transition from defence to attack, a player must be expected to retain the ball and recover well if they were to lose possession. Hint, the star player does not fit the bill. He is rated 17/100 on ball retention and 4/100 on recovery by SmarterScout. Barnes loses the ball for Leicester City frequently and fails to get back and recover the ball when he does give away possession.

As such, although a potentially devastating attacking player in attacking passages of play, outside of that Barnes can lack impact on the match. Any fixture in which the Foxes are not dominant, the player is nigh absent in a similar vein to how Jamie Vardy has been during the 22/23 campaign.

Not the standard

Final point. Compared to other top six left-wingers, Barnes is simply not up to the same consistently potent or diverse playing-styles which characterise the best in that position. One player who has shown this consistency and diversity in play has been Gabriel Martinelli for Arsenal. The Gunners’ forward has been electric during the 22/23 season.

FB Ref rate the Brazilian higher on progressive passing, successful progressive carries, non-penalty xG, and of course tackles. Meanwhile, SmarterScout rate the player at 75 for attacking output and 83 for ball retention. Although Martinelli still does not recover much, he is giving the ball away a lot less.

Next. What happened in Leicester dressing room immediately after relegation. dark

Those real top six players are consistent, potent, diverse, creative, and defensively involved throughout a match. Barnes is not all these things all the time, so cannot be ready for that big money move which he should be craving right now. An upper table Premier League side would do perfectly well with him, not a Liverpool or Manchester United.