Generally, a two-window transfer embargo in a post-Hazard world would prove detrimental in relation to Chelsea’s competitiveness in the Premier League and in the Champions League. However, it provides squad players who were destined for the departure lounge with an opportunity to impress and provide a dilemma for Frank Lampard ahead of the opening encounter against Manchester United.
Kenedy, remember him? Yes, the guy who was sent home from Chelsea’s pre-season tour of China in 2017 after making offensive comments. The guy who scored away to Norwich on that cold March night after a minute under Guus Hiddink. Fans were indifferent in reacting to his performance against J-League champions, Kawasaki Frontiale yet Lampard praised the 23-year-old, implying that the Brazilian could have a future at the Bridge.
Whereas Sarri persisted with the constant and uncompromising 4-3-3 formation, Lampard has been rather pragmatic, having used a variety of formations during pre-season. So far, he has used a 4-3-3 formation, 4-2-3-1 and diamond systems in pre-season. Nothing is to say, he could adapt his style to incorporate wing-backs or use a traditional 4-4-2. Kenedy is an incredibly versatile player and would suit a manager with an adaptable philosophy. He can play anywhere on the left side, even as a makeshift left-back where he featured under Hiddink in 2016 and in the first half against Bohemians.
Consistency is the product of regular appearances; in his debut season for the Club, he only started four times in 14 league appearances. He was not trusted under Mourinho due to Chelsea’s predicament in the league and was not utilised effectively; his best position is on the left-side of midfield, not as a left-back.
Despite impressing during his first loan spell at Newcastle, his overall output in terms of goals and assists suggested a different narrative. In 38 Premier League appearances, across a season-and-a-half, Kenedy managed to score three goals and provide three assists. With Callum Hudson-Odoi out until the foreseeable after rupturing his Achilles, this means that Kenedy will compete with Willian or Pedro for the left-wing position. Unless he impresses in the remaining pre-season fixtures, then Kenedy will have to be patient with Willian starting the opening fixture at Old Trafford.
Opportunities will arise as Chelsea battle on domestic and European fronts throughout the season. It is possible that he may feature against lesser opponents such as Sheffield United and Norwich City as Frank is trying to find his ideal starting eleven. Not to mention, the cup competitions as both Willian and Pedro are on the wrong side of 30 and cannot play three matches in seven days. As dramatic as it sounds, Kenedy is playing for his future since his contract expires in June 2020. It is vital that he maximises every opportunity, whether that be 15 minutes where Chelsea are chasing a goal, or he is rewarded with a start.
Historically, the board at Chelsea have made mistakes in the transfer department – notably Papy Djilobodji, Alexandre Pato and Matt Miazga, to name a few, but former Technical Director, Michael Emenalo, would not have signed the ex-Fluminense winger as a nineteen-year-old if he did not believe in his potential. Loan spells at Watford and Newcastle were deeply disappointing, but Frank’s ability to trust youth provides me with confidence. Harry Wilson, 22, Mason Mount 20 and Jayden Bogle, 18, thrived under Lampard at Derby as they cemented their position in the starting eleven. Comparing Chelsea and Derby is like comparing chalk and cheese, but with the correct guidance, confidence and belief, perhaps Kenedy can thrive also.