It will always be an unknown what would have happened if Rafa Benitez has not brought in Martin Dubravka and Kenedy in January, as well as Islam Slimani up to a point.
However, it is very hard to envisage that Newcastle would still have won five games and reached 41 points, if the keeper and winger hadn’t arrived.
With loan signings coming in halfway through the season, you have to wonder about just how committed they will be and just as importantly, how quickly they will settle.
We are all sitting comfortably now, but it is quite amazing how quickly Dubravka and Kenedy fitted in, as soon as they stepped out onto the pitch.
Only days after arriving, the Chelsea left sided player was Newcastle’s man of the match in the 1-1 draw against Burnley, getting an assist and also winning a penalty which should have brought victory, only for Joselu to fluff it.
As somebody who had only started five Premier League games in two and a half years, none this season, his debut and subsequent displays have been remarkable.
The same with Dubravka. After playing your entire career in the minor leagues of Slovakia, Denmark and the Czech Republic, to make your debut against Manchester United only a week and a half after joining, then keep a clean sheet and be man of the match…unbelievable.
With a £4m buying option agreed between the clubs and the player himself appearing to be very happy with his new club, the permanent move for Martin Dubravka looks assured this summer.
However, Rafa Benitez admits that Kenedy is a different situation.
No buying clause was included for the Brazilian and so it is one of those typical situations for Chelsea and their cynical strategy of buying young players with little/no intention of playing most of them, loaning them out for a number of seasons to have somebody else pay their wages and improve them as players, sitting back and often seeing the value of the ‘asset’ rise and rise.
I’m guessing there would have been minimal interest from other Premier League clubs [and beyond], if Chelsea had announced Kenedy was up for sale in January, certainly I couldn’t imagine any value on him over £10m, considering he arrived for around £7m in 2015 and has hardly played any football since.
However, only three months on and nine appearances for Newcastle United, a price tag of around £20m is surely a minimum, with the way the transfer market has gone.
Rafa Benitez says that you can’t not play a loan player just because they are doing well and you are afraid it will attract competitors, if you want to try and keep somebody like Kenedy.
The Newcastle boss says ‘you have to play him’ and of course playing every week and doing well, are the exact reasons why the Brazilian has said he is ‘so happy’ at St James Park and would be interested in staying long-term.
Rafa concedes though that it could be a hard deal to pull off in terms of buying Kenedy at this stage, both because of possible competitors, but mainly the situation with Chelsea.
It is very likely they may want to sit on the player longer to see if the value further increases, whilst with a change of manager in the summer very likely, that adds further complications as a new man may fancy keeping the player and giving him the opportunity.
The United Manager openly admits that another loan may be Newcastle’s best chance of seeing Kenedy at St James Park next season but you would imagine if a loan move is how Chelsea see things going, then surely they would then also need to be committing to a new more lucrative contract for the 22 year old.
With three years of his initial contract up this summer, Kenedy will very likely have only two years remaining, so no way would Chelsea want a position where the 22 year old was allowed to go out on loan next season and potentially excelling, then coming back to Stamford Bridge with only a year left on his deal.
For Newcastle fans, this is surely a deal that would signal just how ambitious Mike Ashley is going to allow Rafa to be. If the club don’t at least try and buy the winger for an amount higher than the current 13 year old £16m Michael Owen club record fee, then it will be massive worries all around Tyneside as to where NUFC are heading.
Rafa Benitez on trying to keep Kenedy:
“I have seen the interview and what he said [where Kenedy said he’s interested in staying at Newcastle].
“I know his agent [as well].
“He is doing well and I am happy because we have been winning and he’s been scoring goals, that’s fantastic for us and really good news for him.
“The situation is that Chelsea need to know where they will finish, and we need to know where we will finish, there is plenty of time to talk.
“But if you are asking me [whether a loan is best chance of Newcastle keeping Kenedy]…I would say yes.
“It wasn’t easy to bring him here and it won’t be easy to bring him here again.
“You can’t change that [alleged interest from likes of PSG and Bayern Munich], if you want to win games and he is doing well, you have to play him.
“If he is doing even better than fine, fair enough it will be more difficult for us [to compete with other clubs for his signature] for sure, but he is so happy [at Newcastle] he will be keen to stay.”