Emile Heskey is not surprised to see Liverpool show an interest in Harvey Barnes but believes the Leicester City winger would be better off staying at the King Power Stadium, speaking exclusively to HITC.
Cast your mind back to the autumn of 2019; Barnes is baring down on goal, his right foot charged, ready to fire. Do you back him? Perhaps not.
The 23-year-old winger has always been blessed with dazzling dribbling skills and the sort of explosive acceleration that would give Jamie Vardy a run for his money but, when it came to end product, some work was required.
Flash forward to March 2021, however, and you’d bet your keys, your car and the deeds to your house on Barnes finishing off a one-on-one with effortless aplomb.
The Burnley-born flyer has improved immensely under Brendan Rodgers, blossoming into one of the Premier League’s most prolific wide players with nine goals in the top-flight and 13 in total across 2020/21.
One of those came during Leicester’s 3-1 trouncing of Liverpool – Barnes capping another rip-roaring display with a well-taken finish against a club who have been scouting him extensively, according to The Mirror.
But while the lure of Liverpool may be strong despite a dismal title-defence, Heskey sees no reason why Barnes should leave a Leicester side sitting ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s team in the table.
“It’s very important (to keep him). You can see that Brendan has actually improved him. If you go back a season or so, he was getting those same chances, in those same positions, and wasn’t taking them. But now, you’re more confident with Harvey Barnes getting into those positions and scoring than you’ve ever been,” says Heskey, who himself joined Liverpool from Leicester in the year 2000.
“So this is why the clubs like Liverpool are probably showing an interest because you’re getting a more consistent player. He’s hitting the heights that you expect and when analysts are looking at him they’re saying; ‘His runs are yielding more success than others’.
“You’ll always have that interest. But I think, being a local lad, this is the best place for him right now, especially the way Leicester are going.
“But again, they’ve still got to show that upward trend to keep players like him and James Maddison otherwise they will start to say; ‘Can I go and win trophies elsewhere?’”
Leicester tend to sell one star player per summer; from N’Golo Kante to Danny Drinkwater to Harry Maguire.
But with The Mirror claiming that Barnes is due to sign a new contract at the King Power, Foxes fans can afford to breathe a sight of relief.
“100 per cent it’s a statement, not just for the rest of the Premier League but also for the fans, to show that ‘we are not a selling club’,” Heskey adds.
“If you told me that you have someone waiting in the wings to replace Harvey Barnes who is 17 or 18, I can understand you selling Harvey Barnes. But if you have not got that, and you don’t need to sell, there’s no reason to let him go.”