Born in Santa Rita do Sapucaí, a small town in southeast Brazil, Robert Kenedy Nunes Nascimento has gone from a boy playing on the streets, to the big city lights of London and Chelsea FC, but now his heart could be set on a place up north, a place where the Magpies live.
As a youngster, he was playing for his local side Santarritense when a scout noticed his undoubted quality and asked him to bring his talent to the metropolis that is Rio de Janeiro. Only being 8 years old and the mere 300-mile trek to Rio didn’t put off the young Brazilian, who thought it was a “no-brainer’.
Three years later and things had taken off. Signing for Vasco de Gama, another Rio-based club but this time competing in the Brazilian First Division. Kenedy was playing two years above his age group and it was only a matter of time before he would play his first game in the Série A. Before he’d get his debut, there was one more club to go to: Fluminense.
The Tricolor soon gave him his chance on the big stage. At 17, he came on as a substitute in Fluminense’s 2-0 defeat to Grêmio. Almost a year after his debut, he scored his first professional goal against Cruzeiro. Not long later he was a regular for the Brazilian U20’s side. This national recognition put Kenedy on the map and soon enough, Chelsea wanted the boy from Brazil. A £6.3m transfer fee confirmed the Blues interest and on 22nd August 2015, Kenedy was a Chelsea player.
Not A Great Start
His first season at Chelsea didn’t go the way he had dreamt. Making substitute appearance after substitute appearance, Kenedy demanded a loan away and in August 2016, a month after making his ‘dream move’ he was loaned to Watford.
What was meant to be a chance to prove himself, Kenedy instead hobbled his way to one game for the Hornets before being recalled in December. A dire loan spell to say the least, and one that had damaged the esteemed reputation he had brought over from Brazil.
Once he was fully recovered, he began to show signs of progress, starting for Chelsea for the first time in May 2017 AGAINST Watford, but overall he was generations away from becoming a regular in the starting lineup.
What was once a fluttering start to a career had become make or break for the 21-year-old as Chelsea were seriously losing patience after the £6m fee had not brought a return. They had to wait till January 2018 to see what they had seen back in Brazil.
After only playing 16 games in two and a half years, the expectations of Kenedy had been lowered so when he joined the Magpies for the remainder of the 2017/18 season, the versatile Brazilian had a weight off his shoulders and the opportunity to finally perform. And perform he did…
The only thing he knew about Newcastle was from the film ‘Goal’, but that didn’t stop him from creating his own little Santiago Munez tale. His first game in the famous black and white went well, assisting United skipper Jamaal Lascelles in their 1-1 draw against Burnley. He then proceeded to notch a brace and claim Man of the Match in their three nil drubbing of Southampton. His contributions didn’t go unnoticed by the St James’ faithful. His tricky feet and tireless work rate have led him to become quite the fan favourite.
With his inspired performances in the black and white, recent news has suggested that Kenedy will return to Newcastle for the 2018/19 season. This is a coup from Spanish genius Rafa Benítez, who will aim to get the Magpies higher than 10th and back to continental football for the first time since the 2012/13 season.