• Reports claim that the Blues are close to reaching an agreement with AS Roma over both players.
  • But manager suggests that academy starlets like Dujon Sterling could also have a chance to replace Kenedy.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has backed Kenedy to follow the successful footsteps of Andreas Christensen after confirming that the Brazilian is set to complete a loan move to Newcastle United for the remainder of the campaign.

Christensen, 21, was recruited by the Blues at the age of 16 as a prospect for the future and spent two seasons on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach before being given a chance to prove himself in the Chelsea's first-team.

The centre-back's long-term future at Stamford Bridge came under question but he returned to the Premier League champions in the summer.

Kenedy was also brought from Fluminense in the summer 2015 after garnering a big reputation in Brazil but the 21-year-old wing-back has since struggled to make the impact expected both at Chelsea and in a short loan spell at Watford he had during the first half of the last campaign.

The Brazilian has only made six appearances for the Blues under Conte this term and the Chelsea boss has urged him to go on loan to Newcastle for the rest of the season and prove that he still can have a long-term future at Stamford Bridge.

"Yes, I think he is going on loan to Newcastle," Conte said in the press conference ahead of Chelsea's trip to Arsenal for the Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg decider.

"We are talking about a young player with great potential. At this moment in his career he has to play with regularity. To go to Newcastle is a great challenge for him. This way is a great way for the club, we did the same with Andreas Christensen who is now a Chelsea player and always in the starting 11.

"It's a good opportunity but he must know he has to be ready to fight to play for Newcastle. Last season, in six months at Watford, Kenedy struggled and played only 24 minutes, but now he's more ready, he's played many games with us and he can show his potential by going on loan.

It has been said in recent days that Chelsea are only waiting to sign AS Roma full-back Emerson Palmieri to sanction the Kenedy's departure to Newcastle.

But Conte has indicated that he could considerer promoting a player like Dujon Sterling from the youth team to replace the Newcastle-bound star ahead of the second half of the season.

"As you know very well, after this question about Kenedy, if the club decides to loan one player, they have to decide whether to buy another player or work with a young player, like Sterling from the academy. I am ready for both cases. The club must decide what is best for the club," Conte said.

Sterling, who usually plays as a right-back, made his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup clash against Nottingham Forest in September and was named on the bench for the 4-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday [20 January].

Conte believes that the 18-year-old could have more opportunities in the second half of the season but reports insist that Chelsea's idea is to sign Palmieri from Roma to serve as a back-up for Marcos Alonso on the left-back.

Sky Sports are reporting that Chelsea are also close to reaching an agreement worth in excess of £45m to sign both the full-back and Edin Dzeko ahead of the second half of the season.

But pressed about the pursuit of the two Roma players, Conte only replied: "I don't know. If there is news, the club will inform you."

Kenedy has only made 6 appearances for Chelsea during the opening half of the season. Getty Images