Harvey Barnes is officially a Newcastle United player. The 25-year-old England international has joined from Leicester City for a fee of around £38 million and has signed a five-year contract.
He is likely to elect to wear the number 15 shirt he held for a period at Leicester and also during his loan spells at Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion, but could also take the number 10 that is set to be vacated by Allan Saint-Maximin.
It has been reported that Barnes was on around £100,000 at Leicester and it is said that he will be paid a basic wage in excess of that at St. James' Park, putting him amongst the top earners at the club.
After signing, Barnes gave his first comments to NUFC.co.uk, saying "I'm delighted. It's an amazing club and for me, it's a massive opportunity to come and be involved in a successful team that's doing exciting things, so I'm absolutely buzzing to be here. I think it's an attacker's dream to come into a team like this; it's high-paced, it's physically demanding, but you can see the rewards of that with the chances and the goals scored, so I think I'll certainly suit the style."
Eddie Howe also spoke about his new arrival, commenting "Harvey is an exciting talent who I have admired for a long time so I'm delighted to welcome him to Newcastle United. He is strong, quick and very good technically, and he showed last season in particular that he has an eye for goal from wide positions. He will add a different element to our play and we look forward to working with him as we prepare for the season ahead."
Barnes was first linked with Newcastle by Alan Nixon of The Sun in July 2022 and there have been many, many stories written about a potential move to St. James' Park for the winger ever since.
Things really began to heat up at the beginning of this month, with Simon Jones of The Mail reporting that the Magpies were "back on the trail" of Barnes on Monday the 3rd of July for a fee of around £35 million. This was despite the fact that Jones' Mail colleague Craig Hope had previously written that Barnes was not a target for Eddie Howe this summer a month prior.
The transfer then seemed to stall for a period, despite multiple reports from multiple mainstream media outlets claiming it was "imminent", with real movement not coming until Tuesday the 18th of July when a number of journalists wrote that an agreement was "very close". Ben Jacobs, a Foxes fan, was the most prominent of those and claimed the fee was "in excess of £35 million".
By the following evening, David Ornstein of The Athletic had confirmed that Newcastle had agreed a fee of around £38 million with Leicester. Barnes was on Tyneside by Thursday the 20th of July to complete his medical and conduct media duties, with his official announcement as a Newcastle United player being made today.
A right-footed left-winger, Barnes played 154 of his 176 senior games for Leicester at either left-wing or left midfield (88%), featuring down the right on just six occasions (3%). He also filled in as an attacking midfielder nine times (5%), in central midfield twice (1%), and as a striker in five matches (3%).
It's hard to imagine him featuring anywhere else under Eddie Howe, especially considering his primary strengths. Described as the ultimate "give-and-go" player, Barnes loves a one-two and isn't one to constantly attack his full-back on the dribble, as Saint-Maximin was prone to do. Here's a snippet of Michael Cox's excellent tactical analysis of Barnes in The Athletic from back in February:
He is a fine ball-carrier, but doubtless knows his limitations at directly beating his opponent. And as a goalscoring wide player, his main job is to get past the opposition full-back and score goals.
Therefore, he compensates for his lack of trickery by relentlessly playing one-twos with team-mates; both more regularly and more successfully than any other Premier League player.
Opposition right-backs have a specific task when playing against Barnes — don’t worry too much about him running at you with the ball, but be very wary when he knocks the ball infield and charges past you.
One of our favourite Newcastle-focussed data analysts on Twitter, Sanjay, shared a graphic back in early June that showed Barnes had trailed only Salah, Son, Sterling, Rashford, and Jota for Premier League goal contributions (non-penalty goals and assists) since 2019:
Sanjay has recently summarised Barnes very neatly in another Tweet, too:
And later followed it up with a fantastic thread about our new winger:
Kev Lawson of StatsBomb also dropped a mega-thread about Barnes and what he could bring to Howe's XI. Strap yourself in, because this is a LONG read:
To cut a long story very short, he's a completely different type of left-winger to Saint-Maximin, but he should be far more productive in terms of goals and assists.
If you've somehow managed to avoid watching a highlight reel of Barnes until now, here's a recent one to whet your appetite:
On FIFA 23, Barnes' base card on Ultimate Team is a non-rare 80. This would have put him behind Kieran Trippier (84), Saint-Maximin (81), Bruno Guimarães (81) and Nick Pope (81) when 23 was released, and level with Alexander Isak, Sven Botman, and Martin Dúbravka.
Barnes' Ultimate Team card has the "explosive" chemistry style, 3* skill moves, and 4* weak foot ability. His base statistics are 86 for pace, 77 for shooting, 75 for passing, 81 for dribbling, 45 for defending, and 64 for physical. His default position is LM, with his alternate position being LW, and he has high attacking work rate and medium defensive work rate. His unique traits are "outside foot shot", "playmaker", and "long shot taker".
In career mode, Barnes has an 80 overall rating and 83 potential with Yannick Carrasco of Atlético Madrid and Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich being the most statistically-similar players to him on the game.
Here's his player profile page from a new default database game of Football Manager 2023:
At his best as an "inverted winger" with a support duty when deployed as a left-midfielder or left-attacking midfielder, Barnes has "shoots from distance", "curls ball", "cuts inside", and "tries first-time shots" as his preferred moves.
Barnes began last season at £7m but had dropped to £6.7m by the end of the campaign, as Leicester struggled and were eventually relegated. Given that everyone starts a new season as either a .0 or .5, this would point to Barnes costing £6.5m from the outset of 2023/24. This would make him Newcastle's joint-most expensive midfield option, alongside Miguel Almirón, and 0.5m more than Joelinton and Bruno.
While we're very optimistic about the signing and expect Barnes to do very well, we're not sure we'd be gambling on him at that price from the outset, just in case Howe beds him in as slowly as he has done with some other new signings. However, if by the end of pre-season it looks like he'll be a guaranteed starter, £6.5m could be a snip.