Harvey Barnes

Barnes: There's A Real Buzz At Leicester City

Academy graduate Harvey Barnes says the close connection he feels with Leicester City made it an easy decision to agree a new contract at King Power Stadium.
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Having joined the Club on 8 June, 2007, Barnes, now 21, burst into contention for the first team with a string of impressive performances during the 2018/19 campaign. 

Now a member of England's Under-21s squad for this summer's UEFA U21 European Championship, Barnes signed a new five-year deal at King Power Stadium on Friday.

Between training at St George's Park, the Countesthorpe-based Academy graduate returned to Filbert Way to express his delight after committing his future to a club he supported as a boy.

"I don’t think there was really much thought that had to go into it to be honest," Barnes said, sat in the home changing room at King Power Stadium earlier this week.

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Barnes first walked through the doors at Belvoir Drive as a nine-year-old in 2007.

"For me, the progression that I’ve had at the Club, from joining at such an early age to the position I’m in now, it’s just something that I want to continue.

"When we had talks with the Club about a new contract, I was delighted and it was a no brainer really."

After spending the majority of his life in the Academy, in 2016, Barnes made his senior debut at FC Porto's Estádio do Dragão in the UEFA Champions League just two days before his 19th birthday. 

Looking back on that evening on Portugal's coastline, he remembers the moment Foxes manager Claudio Ranieri looked to his substitutes' bench and pointed in his direction.

There’s a lot of people who will go through their career and will not play in the Champions League so to have had that opportunity at such a young age was brilliant for me.

Harvey Barnes LCFC TV

Recalling that moment, he revealed: "I was probably looking around, making sure he meant me first! For myself, it was a special moment.

"Obviously I wasn’t aware that I was going to come on. I knew I was involved, but I wasn’t expecting to come onto the pitch so when I got called to come on, there was obviously a few nerves.

"I think it was more excitement for me. Getting my first run-out for Leicester, obviously on such a big stage as well, was just great.

"There’s a lot of people who will go through their career and will not play in the Champions League so to have had that opportunity at such a young age was brilliant for me.

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Barnes' first-ever taste of men's football was in the world's most prestigious competition.

"I rushed up to the sidelines ready to come on and [Ranieri] just said to me: “Go and enjoy yourself.”

"After the first few seconds, you realise it’s a football game at the end of the day so you’ve just got to be yourself as a player and go out there and be confident."

That 14-minute cameo in Porto was followed by three productive loan spells in the Sky Bet Football League which Barnes believes were all essential to his personal development.

Over the three spells, he scored a total of 20 goals for MK Dons, Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion, quickly earning a reputation for himself as one of the country's most exciting prospects.

I feel like already he’s brought my game on and added bits that I probably didn’t know I needed to have myself. So, for me, I’m really looking forward to next season.

Harvey Barnes LCFC TV

"Each one brought different challenges," Barnes explained. "I feel like each one was a different step up and, as I say, it was a different challenge for each one.

"For me, I enjoyed all of them and I think they brought different bits to my game that I didn’t really know that I had.

"Stepping into a men’s dressing room for the first time and, of course, stepping out in front of a crowd were daunting at first.

"Obviously at MK Dons, the crowds weren’t as big as they were at West Brom, but having that first feeling of stepping out was a bit daunting when you’re young.

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

The 21-year-old scored nine goals in 25 Sky Bet Championship appearances at The Hawthorns.

"For me, it was just getting experience and getting game time, ready to come back to Leicester."

When he returned to the Club this January, first Claude Puel, and then current Leicester City manager, Brendan Rodgers, both displayed immediate faith in Barnes' talent. 

Over the second half of the season, he made 16 appearances, scoring once, and alerting defenders at all Premier League clubs of his relentlessly direct and imposing playing style in attacking positions. 

After having the opportunity to work closely with Rodgers over the past three months, meanwhile, Barnes believes the progress already made is only the start of an exciting chapter for Leicester.

We’re a really close changing room. We talk all the time about football and other stuff all the time. I think there’s a real excitement and buzz.

Harvey Barnes LCFC TV

"I think he’s been great for the Club," he continued. "For me as a player, I think he’s been great as well. He’s worked really closely with me, as he does with all the players.

"I feel like already he’s brought my game on and added bits that I probably didn’t know I needed to have myself. So, for me, I’m really looking forward to next season.

"We’re not really sure what to expect in pre-season yet, but it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be our first opportunity to see what the gaffer really wants from us and how he wants us to play.

"We’ve all had a little glimpse of that this season, but I think when we get a full pre-season with him, we could really do well this year as a team."

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Barnes will link up with England's Under-21s in Italy later this summer.

Next up on Harvey's agenda is the U21 European Championship with Aidy Boothroyd's Young Lions, including Foxes team-mates James Maddison, Demarai Gray and room-mate, Hamza Choudhury.

England's youngsters, who are among the favourites to lift the trophy in Italy, will face France, Romania and Croatia in June after reaching the semi-finals of the competition last time out.

"It’s going to be a great summer," Barnes continued. "For me, I’m really looking forward to it. I had the Toulon Tournament a few years ago with England, which was a great success.

"I’m hoping for more of the same in the summer in the Euros. We know it’s going to be tough, but to have a few of the other Leicester lads there as well, it’s great.

We know we’ve got the quality in the side and I’m sure there might be one or two additions this year which will just bring competition for places and [we’ll] push each other on more.

Harvey Barnes LCFC TV

"It’s great for the Club and it’s great for us knowing that we play with each other most weeks so we’ve got that connection already."

Barnes will return to Leicester following the tournament's conclusion and, after a short break, will rejoin Rodgers' first team squad ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

In what will be the Club's fifth successive top-flight campaign, Barnes revealed the sense of optimism for the future that is flowing among the playing squad.

Rodgers has regularly emphasised desire to transform Leicester City into a club which is capable of regularly challenging for European qualification and to win cup competitions.  

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

Harvey spoke in-depth to LCFC TV about the love he feels for Leicester City.

While Barnes was naturally hesitant to set targets publicly, it is clear that the 21-year-old and his Foxes team-mates will approach the season with a strongly-held confidence in their own ability. 

Concluding his conversation with LCFC TV, Barnes said: "We’re a really close changing room. We talk all the time about football and other stuff all the time. I think there’s a real excitement and buzz.

"We know we’ve got the quality in the side and I’m sure there might be one or two additions this year which will just bring competition for places and [we’ll] push each other on more.

"We’ve not put a target on it yet, but for us, it’s just seeing what we can achieve next year."

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