Chelsea signing Kenedy is comparable to fellow Brazilian Hulk
Fluminense forward Kenedy has been the subject of interest from a number of European sides but has completed a move to Chelsea.
Kenedy, 19, was born in the Brazilian city of Santa Rita do Sapucai in Minas Gerais state. He began his youth career, aged 11, at Friburguense in Rio de Janeiro state, and then passed through Vasco da Gama and Atletico Mineiro before joining Rio giants Fluminense -- one of the most prominent clubs in the city -- in 2009. He worked his way up through the ranks and was promoted to the first-team squad in 2013 following the sale of another youth product, Wellington Nem, to Shakhtar Donetsk.
He recorded three starts and six substitute appearances in his debut season but was largely used from the bench during his second, with just two of his 20 appearances in 2014 coming from starts. He scored his first goal for the club in the first, away to Bahia, and later came off the bench to score the late equaliser in a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Cruzeiro.
The young forward scored once and provided one assist in seven appearances for the Brazil U20 side, which finished fourth at the South American Under-20 Championship at the start of this year, but missed their run to the final of the World Cup in New Zealand due to a case of appendicitis. He had previously scored six times in 13 appearances at under-17 level.
The 19-year-old has also seen more action at his club since the turn of the year. He scored three times in 10 appearances in the Rio State Championship and then started in the 1-0 win over Joinville in their Serie A opener. Alongside Marlon and Gerson, he represents one of a trio of highly prized academy graduates who have drawn plenty of admiring glances. Barcelona have a first-option agreement in place for both Kenedy and Gerson.
It does, however, seem that the Catalan club have elected not to take up that option when it comes to Kenedy. An investment group recently bought out the remaining 55 percent of his rights that were owned by Fluminense and has been involved in discussions over an onward move to Chelsea. Giuliano Bertolucci, who represents current Chelsea players Oscar, Ramires and Willian, is reported to have acted as an intermediary for the deal.
Kenedy is frequently compared to Hulk. While he is more flexible than the current Zenit St Petersburg forward, there are certainly similarities between them. Like Hulk, Kenedy is well-built and strikes the ball very cleanly off of his favoured left foot. He likes to cut infield from the right and unleash powerful shots on goal.
But he also shares some of Hulk's faults: he is a bit one-dimensional and doesn't combine particularly well with his teammates.
- well-built with powerful burst of acceleration
- a very powerful shooter
- one-footed, and largely one-dimensional
- doesn't link well with teammates
- unused to tracking back defensively
Tackling: On average, he has made less than one tackle per 90 minutes in his Serie A appearances since the start of 2014. Has the necessary physical tools to compete for possession high up the pitch but hasn't been tasked with doing so to date.
Marking: Kenedy has rarely been required to track back and help out defensively at either club or international level so far and this is something he will have to get used to in Europe. It is questionable whether he currently possesses sufficient stamina to do so effectively.
Heading: He is getting on for 6-foot-tall but has not yet shown himself to be a regular threat in the air at senior level.
Close control: Displays good touch and is capable of some wonderful ball manipulation at times. He does, though, quite often receive the ball in a manner that fails to open out the pitch in front of him, thus forcing him to retreat. At senior level, defenders who stay on their feet are usually able to prevent him from cutting inside onto his favoured left foot.
Passing: Plays with his head down and appears largely unaware of the positioning of his teammates. The majority of his passes are played back to the full-back or a supporting midfielder after it has become clear that there is insufficient space infield for him to attack with the ball at his feet. Needs to become much more associative in his play.
Positioning: Capable of making occasional off-ball bursts in behind but largely sticks to his flank and looks to receive the ball into feet. Arrives well at the far post to meet low crosses from the other side of the pitch. Needs to add more variety to his movements.
Crossing: He strikes the ball very well and should therefore be capable of providing good deliveries into the box from wide. However, his primary intention is usually to cut infield and take a shot on goal, with crosses largely utilised as a last resort when that isn't possible.
Finishing: He is a powerful shooter from medium and long range, while he also produced a couple of cool and precise finishes from closer in to score against Botafogo and Bonsucesso during the State Championship. He has taken a very solid average of 3.44 shots per 90 minutes in his Serie A appearances since the start of 2014, but shot selection could be an issue. Under a third of his efforts on goal are on target, while more than a third are blocked.
What the experts say
Kenedy to Chelsea is an odd one. Raw potential, similarities to Hulk but a sizeable fee for a player who may never turn out at the Bridge- Tom Robinson (@tomrobbo89) June 26, 2015
@tomstlh Gérson looks the most talented of all and Kenedy the least one. Kenedy plays more often though as he is older/physically readier.- Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) February 22, 2015
Kenedy (despite the different spelling) is named after assassinated former New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. His full name reads: Robert Kenedy Nunes do Nascimento.
Kenedy was prolific at under-17 level, decent with the under-20s, yet is still unproven at senior level. He has been involved in only 30 top-flight matches for his club, with 26 of those appearances coming from the bench. The suspicion lingers that his physical prowess has played a fairly big role in getting him this far and it is clear that he still has a lot to improve upon if he is to advance from here and become a consistent performer in one of Europe's top leagues.
The reported fee is affordable for a club of Chelsea's means, and in truth, they will be fairly confident of at least matching it if they do decide to sell him on in two or three years' time. Even in his current raw form, the young forward has attributes that make, and will continue to make, him an attractive proposition in the European marketplace. If the deal is completed, it is almost certain that he will be loaned out next season.
Kenedy is still only 19, and if he can make significant improvements to his game out on loan, then he could one day have a chance of turning out at Stamford Bridge. The more likely scenario, however, is that his future will eventually reside away from West London.
Nick Dorrington is a freelance football writer. Twitter: @chewingthecoca.