Barnes burst on to the scene as a 17-year-old while playing for Derby County, and Premier League clubs soon took note of his talents.
West Ham were one of the teams to submit a formal bid to sign the attacking midfielder, but Barnes did not want to leave the club where he had developed.
"West Ham launched a bid of £7 million, Newcastle made an offer. I remember loads of scouts watching me - there was one game against Preston, I think, and someone told me that a scout from Juventus was there," Barnes said.
"I was aware that people were watching but I was just trying to enjoy it. I loved it at Derby and I never tried to play well to leave because I loved the club."
A lucky escape?
After rejecting a move to West Ham, Barnes' career has hardly gone to plan, as his reputation has quickly gone downhill.
A series of injury problems halted his progress as a youngster, and he failed to blossom into the player he threatened to be.
There is no telling if his story would have been different had joined West Ham, but the London club may be grateful that they didn't splash out such a sizeable fee on him now.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed something of a revival since moving to America, where he has scored 26 times in 90 appearances, and he is loving his time across the Atlantic.
"Coming to Houston and playing in the position that I feel comfortable in and feeling loved and getting the excitement of coming to training every day and being pain free has been a blessing," he said. "I've been here for three years and it was the best decision for me."