Newcastle United’s decision to sign Kenedy on loan from Chelsea last season was widely considered one of the determining factors in their successful survival bid, but his reputation is rapidly dwindling on his second spell in the north east.
The Brazilian talent arrived at St James’ Park as an unknown entity; the transfer was effectively a giant stab in the dark – but it paid off. His dynamism and creativity offered something new for the club and defenders who were completely unaware of his style of play were found wanting as Newcastle climbed the table.
His performances thoroughly merited a return to Newcastle, but a poor opening to the season set the tone for his second spell and supporters are beginning to doubt if it’s even worth keeping him beyond the winter window.
Well, obviously it would be foolish to discard him without bringing in a replacement, but there is reason to suggest that Rafa Benitez would be wise to swap one Chelsea player for another.
A recent report from Goal claims that Chelsea are closing in on a £45 million deal for Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella, one of the most coveted and talented young midfielders on the continent.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has found himself on the periphery of Maurizio Sarri’s first-team squad this season, with the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho keeping him out of the starting XI, and Barella’s arrival would serve to force him further down the pecking order.
With that in mind, Benitez should be strongly considering bringing him to Newcastle by the end of January, even if that means terminating Kenedy’s loan; Premier League regulations restrict clubs from having two players on loan from the same club at any one time.
Swapping Kenedy for Loftus-Cheek would not be a like-for-like decision, even if the England international is versatile enough to play in a wide positions but, with Christian Atsu showing signs of promise on the left-wing and Yoshinori Muto also capable of playing in that position, Benitez should have enough cover to deal with Kenedy’s departure.
Ultimately, football matches are won and lost in the midfield battle and Loftus-Cheek is the type of player who would add a significant layer of technical prowess, physical power and star quality at the heart of midfield.
The potential arrival of Barella will surely force Loftus-Cheek away from west London this month, and if Benitez is willing to make a brave call by prematurely ending Kenedy’s time and signing another Chelsea outcast instead he would undoubtedly be securing a gem to aid the club’s bid for survival.
Newcastle fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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