The 19 year-old left winger is on loan at Barnsley from former Premier League champions Leicester City, where he graduated through the academy. He’s had a cracking start to life in South Yorkshire, having already registered five goals and four assists for the Tykes. That makes him, statistically, Barnsley’s best attacking player, with those nine goal contributions the highest return in the squad.
In terms of playing style, Barnes loves to dribble at a defender before cutting inside onto his stronger right foot, then either having a pop at goal or playing in a teammate. In fact, he boasts the joint second highest number of shots per game in the Barnsley team (1.7), whereas only Adam Hammill and Zeki Fryers make more dribbles per match.
His impressive attacking talent has caught the eye at international level too, with Barnes turning out for England’s u18 and u20 sides. In total, he’s grabbed six goals in eight games for the Three Lions’ youth teams.
A key beneficiary of Barnes’ attacking prowess has been top-scorer Tom Bradshaw - the Barnes-to-Bradshaw link has led to three goals this season, beaten only by Wolves’ Bonatini-to-Jota (four goals). In total, Bradshaw has found the net six times, which is likely helped by his tendency to get plenty of shots away - his rate of 1.9 per game is equalled only by Adam Hammill.
Unlike Barnes, Bradshaw moved upwards in the Football League to end up at Barnsley - he started his career at hometown club Shrewsbury, before joining Walsall. His impressive goalscoring record in the Midlands - 40 goals in 86 appearances - won him plenty of Championship admirers.
Amongst them were Reading, with then-manager Brian McDermott reported to be interested in bringing Bradshaw to the Mad Stad around the time the forward lined up for Walsall in the FA Cup against the Royals.
However, he ultimately joined Barnsley later that year, where he’s scored 14 goals in 66 appearances. That may seem modest, but Bradshaw now has a big chance to shine in front of goal after the club lost striker Sam Winnall last January.
Continuing Barnsley’s tradition of developing centre halves that once appeared in Reading’s academy is 25 year-old Angus MacDonald (the other one is current Swansea City man Alfie Mawson). MacDonald never played for the Royals’ first team, instead featuring on loan for the likes of Basingstoke, Wimbledon and Salisbury.
In the end, he joined Salisbury on a free transfer, before then making a transfer to another former loan side - Torquay United. In the summer of 2016, Barnsley shelled out the cash to land the highly-rated centre half, and he’s gone on to play more than 50 times for the Tykes since.
MacDonald himself admitted in September 2016 that games against Reading hold a special significance:
“The game means a little bit more to me. But I won’t change anything from the last few matches.
“I had good and bad times there. It was disappointing when I got released. I was there a long time and I would have liked to have made an appearance.
“I was only around the first team a couple of times but it was a good experience. I am proud to be back in the same division as them.”
Reading won that game 2-1.
Only time will tell, but MacDonald looks like being another entry in the ongoing ‘one that got away’ series.