Leeds United Director of Football Victor Orta says that he had Harvey Barnes ‘locked down’ for Leeds United before the winger instead opted to sign for West Bromwich Albion in 2018.
Barnes had all but agreed to sign on loan for the season at Elland Road before a last minute switch saw him head to the West Midlands instead – a loan spell that brought great success for the winger.
It’s believed the 24-year-old cited footballing reasons as the main factor behind his decision and it ultimately paid off as he netted nine league goals. He was then recalled by parent club Leicester in January 2019 and has since broken into the first team at the King Power Stadium.
Speaking to Marca recently, Orta was able to reveal just how close Leeds had come to Barnes’ signature and also admitted the club were keen on Florian Jozefzoon of Brentford before his eventual move to Derby County.
“We had Harvey Barnes locked down, he decided to go to West Bromwich on loan at the very last moment. We had Jozefzoon, but he took the wrong train and he went to Derby.”
Jozefzoon went on to only net twice in 28 appearances for the Rams in a deal Leeds will in hindsight probably will be happy to have avoided. instead the Whites managed to find value through the loan acquisition of Jack Harrison from Manchester City and the breakout of academy starlet Jack Clarke.
The Barnes deal however is one which is likely to sting, having missed out by the finest margins on promotion from the Championship in Marcelo Bielsa’s first season in charge.
Barnes has since established himself as an England international and a top talent in the Premier League, becoming a pantomime villain for Leeds fans in the process having netted in both fixtures the club has had against the Foxes this season.
Could it have made the difference?
As mentioned, Barnes is now in the England setup and one of Leicester’s key players – he would have undoubtedly thrived at Elland Road.
It’s impossible to say if signing him would have meant promotion a season earlier than it actually happened for Bielsa and Leeds, but he could have added that extra edge.
As it has turned out, Jack Harrison has been superb and is has also been on the cusp of an England call-up a few times so we can’t complain too much.
Still, it would have been nice to have had Barnes and watched him score for Leeds rather than against us, which he seems to have made a habit of annoyingly!