Chelsea plan to assess returning winger Kenedy over the coming weeks to determine whether he will stay at Stamford Bridge for the remainder of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign, or be dispatched for another temporary stint elsewhere in January. Snapped up by Watford on a season-long loan deal in August, the 20-year-old was unable to make an impact with the Hornets due to a lingering knee problem.
Kenedy made just one solitary appearance during that disappointing loan spell, replacing Roberto Pereyra for the final 15 minutes of a 2-0 defeat at Burnley in September. He was unable to force his way into the first-team setup after recovering from that injury and has now been sent back early to his parent club, for whom he featured 20 times across all competitions last term after joining from Fluminense for an undisclosed fee.
"Kenedy went back to Chelsea," Watford boss Walter Mazzarri said earlier this week. "He was a player we never had time to evaluate because he was injured the whole time."
Addressing the versatile Brazilian's future during a press conference held on Tuesday (13 December), Conte was quoted as saying by the London Evening Standard: "There was this situation because Kenedy wasn't playing with Watford so, for this reason, the best decision was for him to come back and stay with us, working with us, and evaluate him this month and then take the best decision for him. To stay with us, or go on loan another time."
Another youngster that might also be considered for a January loan switch is Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The England U21 international, who signed a new five-year deal in February that increased his weekly wage to a reported £60,000 ($76,088) has long been thought of as the most likely youth product to have a lasting impact on Chelsea's first team. His progress has however stalled under Conte, with only three appearances to his name all season – although the manager clearly still has faith in his talent.
"I'm sure that Ruben has great potential, and I think it's important to show this, to improve a lot on different aspects," he said. "Now he's in our squad. This season, he had a few injuries. But now he's in good form and I count on him. There will be a moment when I speak with my club and take the best decision, but I count on him because I think he has good potential."
One player who will remain at Chelsea for the foreseeable future is Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spanish international put pen to paper on a new three-and-a-half year contract earlier today, and Conte is evidently delighted with his decision.
"I'm pleased, and I'm pleased for him," he said, according to Goal. "He's impressed me a lot with his commitment, his work-rate, his ability to play also in different roles. He's a good professional and I'm pleased for him, and above all the club and the fans. A really good player has signed. It was a good affair for us, for Chelsea. Azpilicueta is a really good player. Now, I think, his valuation is very high. He's an important player who can play in different roles. It was a good affair for the club."