West Brom midfielder Chris Brunt has suggested that loanee Harvey Barnes’ move back to Leicester City midway through last season could have cost the club promotion.
The Baggies missed out on a spot in the Premier League next season after being dumped out of the play-offs on penalties by Aston Villa.
Barnes, who was loaned out to the Hawthorns last summer, was a crucial part of West Brom’s early season form, scoring nine goals and assisting seven others before being recalled by the Foxes in January.
Speaking to Albion’s Former Players’ Association, Brunt suggested that the Baggies could have clinched promotion had Barnes stuck around.
“He brought a lot of stuff to the team, his game was a lot more attacking, it suited his game and soon as he came we started to play his way,” the midfielder said.
“I also think at times a lot of things he did in games probably papered over a few cracks if I’m totally honest, but you could get away with it because you had him in the team, you knew he had got the quality to do something.
“When he left it was a massive loss for us because I think he scored ten goals and created countless others in half a season. If you sit down and look back, that might have been the difference in us losing out in the play-offs and getting promoted automatically.”
Well, well, well. What might have been for the Baggies. There’s no doubt about it, Barnes was absolutely electric for the club in his brief spell at the Hawthorns. If he had stuck around until the end of the season, you can bet the midfielder would have got quite a few more goals and assists and could have proved even more crucial in West Brom’s push for promotion. The club already had the likes of Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez banging in the goals, but Barnes added that little something extra and different, and as Brunt says, he was a massive loss to the side. Even so, Leicester did not waste any time with Barnes after recalling him. A day after doing so, he played in the Foxes’ Premier League clash with Southampton. In fact, he went on to appear in every league game from then on, and there looks little chance of him being loaned out again next season.