After suggesting earlier in the week that it was his ‘dream’ to win titles with parent club Chelsea, Rafa Benitez has insisted that we are still in a ‘good position’ to sign Kenedy permanently – however he wants to see him back to his best before his future is discussed.
The Brazilian arrived on loan at the beginning of the year and played a big part in our second half of the 2017/18 season, with both him and Martin Dubravka being key to our rise from relegation candidates to a 10th place finish.
His start to the current season has been noticeably poor, however, and his recent comments about his ‘dream’ to return to Chelsea and win titles haven’t gone down too well with some NUFC fans given his recent form.
Benitez has now had his say on the matter, explaining why we are in a win-win situation:
“I was talking with him at the beginning of the season and talking with his people and the people around him, including his agent,”
“It is a crucial season for him. Obviously he would like to go to Chelsea and win the league, for example. Fine but it’s a win-win situation for us. He has to do really well here if he wants to go there and play and have a chance. They are a top side and it’s very demanding. He knows that.
“My experience with players when it is so early in the season: leave them just playing well and afterwards you have plenty of time to talk about the future.
“We can be saying: ‘If he is doing well, maybe he will go back to Chelsea’. But Chelsea may sign three players who can play in his position as well. Then he will see he has no chance of playing there and stays here. Still, I think it is too early to talk about that but in his head, the main thing is to just keep playing well.
“At the moment it is a loan but we have a very good relationship with Chelsea, with him and his agent so we are in a good position.”
He makes a good point. If he performs so well for us that he returns to Chelsea and gets in their team then it will have been a brilliant loan for the club, but if he doesn’t quite do enough to convince those at Stamford Bridge then our chances of keeping him increase.
Rafa then explained why it has been a hard for months for Kenedy on a personal level, saying he had a ‘difficult’ summer – with him now adapting to life as a dad as well:
“He will need some time (to get back to his best). His partner was having a baby and it was a difficult time in the summer. Hopefully little by little it will settle down and he can be the player that we were expecting.
“He has to be consistent. He was doing really well for us for six months, now he has to prove he is someone who can play at this level for a while. I think he can do it but he has a difficult summer with the baby. She was in Brazil and in London so it was difficult but little by little it will settle down.”
Let’s get behind him.
Seeing some fan’s comments about him recently has really frustrated me. Yes he was dreadful against Cardiff and Forest, but two games don’t define his time at NUFC – especially when we’ve spent the majority of 2018 raving about him after his impact during last season’s loan.
He’s still young and he does have a lot to learn, but he also has real flair and talent – something our squad tends to lack.
As Rafa says, let’s just hope he can find form and settle down this season before we even think about his future.