Talking Tactics

Summer Series: Why Howe made Barnes a priority

By Adrian Clarke 23 Jul 2023
Barnes, Newcastle

Adrian Clarke on why the winger's eye for goal can boost Newcastle's open-play threat

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With the Premier League Summer Series in the USA under way, Adrian Clarke assesses the six clubs involved, highlighting the key questions that could be answered during the tournament.

Team analysis: Newcastle United

With Harvey Barnes joining Newcastle United, the attacking firepower at Eddie Howe's disposal is significantly elevated. 

The 25-year-old enjoyed the most productive goalscoring season of his career in 2022/23, registering 13 Premier League goals for Leicester City.

Coming in off the left, he showed us that his right foot can be deadly around the penalty area on a consistent basis.

Linking with Wilson and Isak

Barnes is a powerful runner who is hard to track when he gets into his stride.

This should suit a Newcastle team who are often at their best when they launch quick breakaways.

Only Manchester United (102) made more direct attacks than the Magpies' 95 en route to a top-four finish, so look out for the winger sprinting beyond the last defender.

Barnes used his speed to good advantage for Leicester, scoring a selection of very similar goals last season.

Seven of his 13 goals came from the left of the box no more than 12 yards out, usually from surges into the area.

His final strike in a Leicester shirt, against West Ham United on the final day, saw him play a neat one-two around the box before slotting in from the angle of the six-yard box.

This was trademark Barnes, and he also produced a near identical effort at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Expected to start on the left for Newcastle, he will want to exchange passes with Callum Wilson or Alexander Isak, by looking for wall passes that take him into the area.

Barnes v West Ham
Barnes v West Ham 1
Barnes v West Ham 2
Barnes v Wolves
Barnes v Wolves 1
Barnes v Wolves 2
How does this impact the starting XI?

Barnes will likely be a replacement for Allan Saint-Maximin, who has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia.

Howe’s first-choice combination during the second half of last season did see Joelinton occupy the left-wing spot, with Joe Willock playing behind him on that side of central midfield.

If Barnes starts, we may see Joelinton and Willock competing for a place inside the midfield, alongside Bruno Guimaraes and Sandro Tonali.

Alternatively, Joelinton could be used as a right-sided forward instead.

Barnes, who could feature in the Premier League Summer Series, is not the most creative wide player. He only made 19 key passes in the entirety of 2022/23.

His game is better suited to breaking into the box and testing opposition 'keepers with shots on goal.

As shown in the table below, his shot output and conversion rate compared well with Newcastle's top performers during the previous campaign.

Barnes v Newcastle's attackers 2022/23
Goals Shots Conversion rate
Wilson 18 Wilson 73 Isak 30.3%
Barnes 13 Barnes 72 Wilson 28.6%
Almiron 10 Almiron 69 Almiron 25.0%
Isak 10 Willock 58 Barnes 24.1%
The right type of signing

With Wilson and Isak both impressing in the striker’s role, Howe does not need to make a centre-forward signing his priority this summer.

Bringing in Barnes to compete with the likes of Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Anthony Gordon for a winger’s spot makes more sense.

There is no doubt that Newcastle do need to score more in open play.

The Magpies ended up with just 48 open-play goals from 38 matches, the joint-fewest among teams who finished inside the top six.

Top-six sides' open-play goals
2022/23 Goals in open play
Man City 69
Arsenal 66
Brighton 56
Liverpool 52
Man Utd 48
Newcastle 48

The signing of Barnes gives them a better chance of reaching 50-plus in the season ahead.

At 25, Barnes is a proven Premier League performer who looks ready to make an impact at St James’ Park.

See: Summer Series schedule

Also in this series

Part 1: How will Torres improve Emery's defence?
Part 2: Can Schade seize a spot in Brentford's attack?
Part 3: Can Brighton teenagers become key men?
Part 4: Will young Chelsea defenders make their mark?
Part 5: Willian deal allows Silva to now focus on defence

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