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Harvey Barnes is Leicester's biggest weapon in bid to win the Conference League ahead of trip to PSV

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Harvey Barnes is Leicester’s biggest weapon in their battle to win the Conference League ahead of trip to PSV… the winger has stepped up in the absence of Jamie Vardy as Foxes aim for a first ever European semi-final

  • Leicester take on PSV in the Conference League quarter-finals on Thursday  
  • The Foxes are hoping Harvey Barnes inspires them to a first European semi-final 
  • Barnes has three goals in Europe this season and has tormented defences 
  • His presence has boosted the Foxes after the injury to star man Jamie Vardy  

If Leicester City are to reach the first European semi-final in their history, they are likely to need a serious contribution from one of their most reliable European performers.

Along with Patson Daka, Harvey Barnes’ six goals make him Leicester’s joint-top scorer in continental competition. Over the last two seasons, the winger has delivered in Europe, providing a consistent attacking threat against a variety of opponents.

With Jamie Vardy still working his way back to full fitness after hamstring and knee injuries, Barnes’ speed, direct running and ability to beat his marker are crucial weapons for Brendan Rodgers’ men. 

Harvey Barnes can be Leicester's biggesst weapon in their Conference League clash with PSV

Harvey Barnes can be Leicester’s biggesst weapon in their Conference League clash with PSV

Brendan Rodgers has been boosted by Barnes' strong performances - especially in Europe

Brendan Rodgers has been boosted by Barnes’ strong performances – especially in Europe

His influence was apparent as Leicester overcame an excellent Rennes side to set up Thursday’s quarter-final tie against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa Conference League. In the first leg at King Power Stadium, Barnes tormented Rennes skipper Hamari Traore and nullified the full-back’s attacking threat, helping the Foxes to a 2-0 win.

Even though Barnes missed a good chance in the second leg, he provided a vital outlet for a Leicester side under pressure for long periods. Wesley Fofana’s second-half header ensured they squeezed through on aggregate despite a 2-1 defeat.

At 24, Barnes has established himself as a proven Premier League player. He won his only England cap last season and was flying when his campaign was cruelly cut short by a knee injury sustained against Arsenal in March. 

Barnes tormented Rennes in the last round and gave Hamari Traore a tough time on the wing

Barnes tormented Rennes in the last round and gave Hamari Traore a tough time on the wing

That ruled him out of one of the greatest days in the club’s history, the 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Wembley last May that ensured Leicester won the FA Cup for the first time in their 137-year existence.

Barnes still finished, however, with 12 goals and four assists in all competitions, and he has eight of each this term. Though competition for places is fierce, a strong finish to this campaign, coupled with a bright start to the next, could force Barnes back into Gareth Southgate’s thoughts as he contemplates his final 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Southgate is not the only one with eyes on Barnes. For the last two years, some of the Premier League’s elite clubs have been following him closely, though he remains happy at Leicester and signed an improved four-year contract last August.

Barnes can pose serious problems for PSV tonight

He has stepped up for the Foxes in the absence of injured Jamie Vardy

Barnes has stepped up in the absence of Jamie Vardy (R) and can pose real problems for PSV

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit every club, however, and Leicester are no different. Midfielder Youri Tielemans has only one year left on his contract, meaning Leicester are likely to listen to offers this summer. If there is any hint that the club would consider bids for Barnes, there would be no shortage of takers.

Barnes’ current focus, and that of his team, is to write another chapter in their remarkable recent history. After winning the Premier League for the first time in 2016, and taking home the Cup last year, their aim now is to become the first winners of the Europa Conference League.

The competition was mocked when it was introduced by UEFA but with teams like Leicester, PSV, Roma, Marseille and Feyenoord still involved, nobody is laughing anymore. And if Barnes reaches the heights he has scaled in Europe before, PSV are in for a difficult evening.

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