West Brom midfielder and captain Chris Brunt has singled out Harvey Barnes for having a huge effect on the club’s season for both positive and negative reasons.
The attacking midfielder arrived at the Hawthorns on loan from Leicester City over the summer of 2018 and made an immediate impression, linking up with Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez to form a dangerous trio in attack.
However, he was recalled by his parent side in the January transfer window, West Brom bringing Jacob Murphy in from Newcastle United as a sort of replacement, and Brunt insists his exit has been a huge miss in 2019.
He told the Express and Star: “Losing Harvey Barnes had a big effect, he was different class for the first few months of the season.
“Obviously implementing new bits and pieces this year hasn’t been as easy as we wanted it to be.”
Brunt is preaching to the choir when West Brom fans read his words. There is absolutely no doubting how much Barnes transformed the Baggies’ attack during the first half of the season and while the likes of Gayle and Rodriguez have still been potent up front, there is just not the same quality to carve opposition defences open with. Had Barnes been taken back by Leicester and left on the bench you would imagine the Hawthorns faithful would have been fuming but the attacking maestro has been given a chance in the first team by the Foxes. As such there can be little complain from the Baggies – although they are no doubt less than impressed with how Murphy compares to their former star. Barnes’ time at the Hawthorns might have been short but it was oh so sweet and even if he is not playing for them any more, any success West Brom do taste will be thanks to his performances in the first half of the campaign.