Vancouver Whitecaps newcomer Giles Barnes admits he came close to joining Blackburn Rovers instead

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The ex-Derby County man nearly returned to England last month to link up with his old Houston Dynamo boss Owen Coyle at Ewood Park.

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Vancouver Whitecaps new boy Giles Barnes has revealed to MLSSoccer.com that he came “very close” to leaving MLS for Blackburn Rovers before his recent switch to the Canadian club.

Barnes, 28, previously enjoyed a productive four-year stint with the Houston Dynamo before being traded to Western Conference rivals Vancouver last weekend, recording 31 goals and 14 assists in 113 regular season appearances for the Texas-based outfit.

The ex-Derby County attacker worked with new Blackburn boss Owen Coyle for 18 months during his spell at BBVA Compass Stadium, earning the captain’s armband in that time, and his former manager had been keen to bring him back to England this summer following his appointment at Ewood Park.

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With the Dynamo out of playoff contention at the bottom of the West and ready to sell, a deal to take the 14-times capped Jamaica international to Lancashire even seemed to be on the verge of being completed – leaving him somewhat surprised to end up in British Columbia instead.

"I'd obviously heard whispers about me going over to Blackburn, so I kind of knew that I was on the way out either way,” Barnes told MLSSoccer.com. "There was interest in Blackburn. As far as I know the deal was really close to getting done and for some reason it didn't happen.

"But I'm very, very happy and very excited to be able to work with a manager like [Carl Robinson] and come to a great team like the Whitecaps. My first thing is to get us firmly and safely into the playoffs and then lift a trophy with the Whitecaps."

Derby's Giles Barnes looks dejected after he is carried off the pitch on a stretcher

A highly-rated youngster at Derby, Barnes saw his star fade dramatically during subsequent spells with West Bromwich Albion and Doncaster Rovers due to a terrible run of injures, but he has managed to rebuild his career in impressive fashion since arriving in MLS back in August 2012.

As well as finally overcoming his health problems to star for the Dynamo, the former England Under-19 ace has established himself as a regular fixture in the Jamaica side since switching his international allegiances in 2015, helping them finish as runners-up at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup after scoring two goals in the knockout rounds.

His displays this season in a struggling Houston team that saw Coyle leave by mutual consent in May have not quite been up to the standard of previous campaigns, but the London-born forward is hoping that a fresh start in Vancouver can help revitalise him.

“I'm here for as long as Vancouver want me," Barnes added to MLSSoccer.com. "For me, it's just such excitement. I've come from a team that was at the bottom. As a competitor, and an athlete, I want to be competing for things and that's exactly what I've come to in Vancouver.

"It's a young side, with a great manager and great fanbase. I'm really excited to be here. At the end of the year, I want to be lifting a trophy."

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