Rafa Benitez has warned Kenedy and NUFC fans that the Chelsea loanee must perform as he has been on a consistent basis before we get overly excited – challenging the Brazilian to compete and perform like he has been week in week out between now and the end of the season.
After having long standing interest in the Chelsea wide-man, Benitez finally got the deal done to bring him to St James’ Park last month, with the 21-year-old arriving on a loan deal until the end of the season.
To say he’s impressed NUFC fans in his opening two games is putting it mildly, with him providing assists for two goals and being a contender for man of the match in recent 1-1 draws Burnley and Crystal Palace.
Rafa is clearly keen to protect the 21-year-old however, asking him to keep calm, compete and keep up this level of performance each week, with him stressing to NUFC fans that he is still a young player and someone who may not perform like this every week – although that is his challenge:
“He did well and everybody is a little bit excited but still he is a young player and he has to be consistent,”
“He has played well. But I want to see him playing more good games and after we can be talking about: ‘Kenedy can do this’, or ‘Kenedy can do that’.
“At the moment we are happy with what he did. We want him to carry on like this every week.
“I don’t want to put him in the position where everyone is talking too much and too nice about him. He has to compete, to perform, and then we will see in a few games if he is doing well.
“We want to see all the games at the same level. When you are young and not played too many games before you cannot expect he will be always there.
“I want to keep him calm, protect him a little bit and let him think about his football.”
Wise words from Rafa, who’s challenging Kenedy to maintain this level of performance and compete to keep him on his toes, but also warning us fans that he’s still a young talent who can’t always be expected to perform as he has done so far.
It’s a fair assessment. Whilst he’s looked a cut above the rest at times over the last two games, he is a player who looked brilliant one minute and naive the next when I watched him in cup outing for Chelsea earlier this season.
That being said, we’ve given him the platform to perform every week, so there’s no reason why he can’t keep up this level of performance and show us what he can do week in week out between now and the end of the season.
Here’s hoping he can keep on doing the business. He could be a major part of our push for safety and a player who could be ideal for Slimani based on the two assists he’s racked up already in a short space of time.