Following confirmation of Kenedy’s loan move to NUFC, the Chronicle have reached out to Chelsea journalist Oliver Harbord, whose offered an intriguing insight into the Brazilian wing-back.
In the interview, Hardbord is full of praise Kenedy’s talent, skill and quality, but feels this is a make or break move for the Brazilian – with him also raising questions over his character and ability to handle pressure.
It’s been a long-winded pursuit of Rafa’s to get the 21-year-old wide man, however it’s been a case of second time lucky after Conte finally sanctioned the deal this week following the imminent arrival of Roma left-back Ederson Palmieri (the man who’ll replace him at the Bridge).
So, here’s the series of questions asked to Football London’s Chelsea correspondent Oliver Harbord by the Chronicle and the insightful responses he gave on the former Fluminense man – starting with an explanation as to what type of player he is:
Q1 – ‘What type of player is he? What can Newcastle fans expect?’
“Firstly, I’ve got to say he is a very talented player.
“He is very skillful on the ball – I’m sure you saw the clip that went around after the Norwich FA Cup replay game, with the little nutmeg he did.
“They are obviously getting a player that is full of quality.
“It is just about how he puts himself about on the pitch now, really, because he has never really been given that chance by Chelsea.
“He has not made a Premier League appearance this season, he has not really fit into the style Conte wants from his left-wing-backs.
“You are looking at a really talented player, but one who is still finding his way in the Premier League.”
Incase you missed THAT piece of skill he’s referring to, here it is:
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) January 23, 2018
He clearly rates him in terms of ability and flair, however feels he’s still ‘finding his feet’ in English football it seems, having been yet to make a Premier League appearance this season despite impressing in the cups.
Q2 – ‘He previously went on loan at Watford and struggled to cement a place in the team. Why didn’t that work out and do you feel he is ready to make a success of his time at Newcastle?’
“One thing you have got to say about this move now is, as far as his Premier League career goes, this really has to work out for him.
“He had that loan move at Watford and only played about 20 minutes of one game. Walter Mazzarri didn’t have a place for him in his side and he went back to Chelsea after just six months when he was supposed to be there for a season and it just didn’t work out for him.
“He must do well at Newcastle if he wants to stick around the Premier League and England.”
Sounds to me like this could be a make or break few months for him, with Oliver questioning whether he’ll have a future in England and in the Premier League if he fails to take his chance with us.
Q3 – ‘Newcastle are obviously in a relegation scrap, and Rafa Benitez needs players that are up for the fight. Is Kenedy the type of character who fits that bill?’
“He was thrown off the pre-season tour in Singapore this season so that hasn’t helped him either.
“I think that remains the biggest question mark over him. I think he is yet to really show that dogged determination that I guess Newcastle fans need to see going into a really difficult part of the season.
“This is going to make or break him in that respect because he hasn’t been put under that sort of pressure before.
“Chelsea fans are yet to see whether he can cope with that pressure and obviously Newcastle fans are hoping that he can.
“But there are question marks over his temperament and whether he can be the player that comes out and really pulls his sleeves up before every game and works as hard as he possibly can for the team.”
Given our predicament, this is a particularly important question and his response doesn’t fill me with great confidence. Hopefully his spell on Tyneside under Rafa is a real learning curve for him and one he responds well to.
Q4 – ‘He can play as a left-back or a left-winger, what is his best position where Newcastle can really get the best out of him?’
“To get the best success out of him I think you need to play him in a more attacking role.
“I think that is one of the reasons why it hasn’t worked here under Antonio Conte because he could only play as a left-wing-back here and he is not a defensive-minded player, particularly, so that is why he has never played a Premier League match this season.
“Antonio Conte hasn’t really trusted him to have a defensive mind. He is not the same sort of player as Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses.
“I think Newcastle should use him in a more attacking role because I think that is where you will get the best out of him.”
Q5 “In your opinion, do you think Kenedy’s loan move will work out to be a success for both clubs, as well as the player?:
“It remains to be seen, really.
“There are question marks over his character and whether he can show himself to be a player Newcastle really need him to be in this part of the season.
“It is one for Chelsea to really look at. They have got a reputation for loan players and he is one, I am sure, if it doesn’t work out at Newcastle they will be looking to offload.
“Even if it does come off for him at Newcastle, if they can afford to buy him then that is one that could work for both parties.
“I want it to work for him because I think he is a very talented player and it is going to be a great show of his character if he can come out of this having played a major part in keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.”
An interesting insight into January signing number one.
He’s clearly got bundles of talent, but there’s clear reservations over his character and ability to cut it in English football. Here’s hoping he comes good and contributes to our survival over the second half of the season!