VANCOUVER, B.C. - Can Giles Barnes get the job done on a cold winter afternoon in Blackburn? The answer is unknown, because the transfer window shut without the Vancouver striker being transferred across the pond to his former Manager Owen Coyle at Blackburn.
There was certainly enough transfer gossip that would have you believe that Barnes was destined to link up with his former gaffer. The Caps held preseason camp in Wales, and Barnes was expected to leave to join Blackburn at any moment, however he did not.
What happened to derail the on again, and off again Giles Barnes to Blackburn transfer?
"You'll have to ask Greg (Anderson) and Robbo (Carl Robinson) if that stuff is even true," said Barnes following practice on Sunday.
On February 9, Owen Coyle shared this quote in the Lancashire Telegraph.
“Giles Barnes was a player we looked to take on loan with a view to signing in August, that never happened, so in January I spoke with Vancouver Whitecaps and I was in a position where we probably could have got Giles Barnes on a free transfer if we could look after the salary aspect."
The Barking, London native is not familiar with the above quote. It was certainly news to Barnes when Red Nation Online asked him about Owen Coyle's comments in the press.
"I do not know, I don't know where you've seen that. I've not even seen that."
Would he prefer to be playing at Ewood Park?
"I'm enjoying my time in Vancouver," said Barnes. "My contract's here for another year, another option year, so it's up to the guys at the front, if they pick it up or not."
How does the back and forth of not knowing where you could be playing affect a footballer? Barnes is taking everything in stride. He wants to live in the now, move forward, and help his current team.
"I just try and concentrate on whatever I'm doing, where I am. It doesn't really phase me either way."
The 28 year-old, Barnes earned $756,250 last season. Quite a hefty salary for Major League Soccer standards. If the Whitecaps organization want to get Barnes wages off the books, he must be moved by the Wednesday, March 1 roster compliance date. If he isn't moved, he will take up one of three designated player spots on the Vancouver roster.
The Caps will be looking for some offensive flare from Barnes tomorrow night in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against the New York Red Bulls. Having played in the Champions League with Houston, Barnes knows what to expect.
"Just go out there and enjoy it," revealed Barnes. "That's what it's all about. You have to go out there, stay focused, play your game. At the end of the day, you're not going to play well if you don't enjoy it. You've got to enjoy your football."
The return leg will take place on Thursday, March 2, at B.C. Place in Vancouver. Carl Robinson could have his team in a comfortable position heading into that match. Away goals are always crucial, so which leg is most important in progressing to the semifinals?
"Don't play to draw," said Barnes. "It's simple, you go both legs, go to win. That's the only way you'll succeed in the sport."
Coming over on July 30, 2016 was a big adjustment for Barnes. It took time to get acclimated. Barnes will now have a full offseason, preseason, and a pair of Champions League matches under his belt before Vancouver opens up MLS competition on Sunday, March 5 vs Philadelphia at B.C. Place. He's hoping to pile up the goals this season.
"Yeah definitely," said Barnes when asked if a full offseason will help him this coming season. "Everyone knows my preferred position is to be central towards the goal. Hopefully I can convince Robbo that I can play down the middle. That's when I feel I score my most goals, but if not. I'm very happy to continue playing either wide or in central midfield."
The Whitecaps need goals, and they need a lot of them. New striker, Fredy Montero will be able to help in that area, and so will Giles Barnes. Owen Coyle will have to wait, because Barnes isn't Blackburn bound. He will be doing his roving in Vancouver this season.
Notes: As of February 21, Owen Coyle has been sacked as manager of Blackburn after just nine months.