NEWCASTLE UNITED are ready to make contact with Chelsea again in a bid to secure Kenedy on a permanent basis, with Rafael Benitez fearing the task has been made harder by his form on Tyneside.

Benitez has made no secret of his desire to keep the Brazilian at St James’ Park but has resisted the temptation to push for a full-time deal until the Magpies had hit the 40-point mark.

Having reached that by defeating Arsenal over the weekend, the Newcastle boss is ready to test the water as he starts to look to a summer when he hopes Mike Ashley, the club’s owner, will loosen the purse strings.

Kenedy has enjoyed his time in the North-East so far, unsurprisingly given he has made nine starts since his loan switch from Stamford Bridge in January when he had only appeared five times in his two-and-a-half years at Chelsea in the league.

But the Blues will be keeping a close eye on a player they paid Fluminese £6.3m for because they will be reluctant to let him go prematurely, having let the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Mo Salah and Romelu Lukaku go too early in the past.

Benitez said: “We tried to sign the player (in January) and they said ‘no’ it is a loan now. We could not say we wanted the player permanently because they would say no.

“Chelsea I am sure they will say wait. Chelsea has a lot of confidence in the lad. When we tried to bring him last summer we couldn’t. The lad wanted to play, but was in a top side.

“We pushed and it was impossible. We were ready in January. I was worried because it was taking too long. We had to be sure we could do it and we did it and now we have to see.”

Kenedy has added an extra dimension to Newcastle’s way of playing down the left and has been a source of creativity as well as scoring a couple of goals too.

The 22-year-old’s displays have alerted a number of other top clubs across Europe, with the likes of Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain credited with an interest as well as top clubs in England.

But the fact Benitez is getting the best out of him should count for something, with the Newcastle boss satisfied with what the South American has brought to the team since joining on a half-season loan.

Benitez said: “He’s more than a ball carrier. When he receives he sees players around him. He can see the movement at set pieces, corners. Under pressure we had anxiety before, now under pressure he can manage it and that gives confidence to players around him.”

The arrival of Kenedy before the transfer window closed in January provided Newcastle with the lift required to kick them on to safety, along with goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

The pair have become key cogs in the Newcastle system, while Islam Slimani has also started to look good after shrugging off the thigh injury he arrived from Leicester with.

Benitez said: “I think it is really good to have the options. When you are at the bottom of the table, winning the games we have been winning then the confidence is in a good place. We are doing well and pushing for better things, so hopefully it can carry on.

“In January we brought in Dubravka and Kenedy … they brought us different things, competition, and everyone was trying even harder. That was a key factor. The mentality of this group and team spirit is also really good.

“Paul Dummett was also a key player for us after four months out when he came back. The last games we did well under pressure and they have all contributed.”

Newcastle’s excellent form which has put them in the top half and effectively safe in the top-flight for a further season has certainly made people sit up and take notice – including England manager Gareth Southgate.

The former Middlesbrough boss has now scheduled to travel to Goodison Park on Monday to monitor the performances of Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles.

Shelvey is believed to be the Newcastle man he is particularly keen to watch live against Everton because of his excellent displays, and he is keen to consider him amid injuries to Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana.

Southgate has previously appeared reluctant to give Shelvey a chance because of his temperament but the Newcastle midfielder does appear to have improvements in that area and now the England boss is ready to look ahead of this summer’s World Cup.