Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has long appeared to be surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, and now Manchester United are reportedly using the Mexico star as bait to lure one of their prime transfer targets this summer.
Shortly after Louis van Gaal took over at Manchester United last summer, Hernández was allowed to leave for a season-long loan deal with Real Madrid. Having made little impact with the Spanish giants, he appears to have no future at the Bernabeu and United are expected to try and cash in on him upon his return, with the 26-year-old having just over a year remaining on his contract.
A number of clubs from across Europe have been linked with Hernández’s signature, but it now appears that Manchester United might have a particular destination in mind. Citing sources at Old Trafford, ESPN has reported that United intend to offer Hernández to fellow Premier League club Southampton in an effort to try and bring their defender Nathaniel Clyne in the opposite direction.
United have long been linked with Clyne, but they face a battle not only to persuade Southampton to sell but also to beat off expected competition from Premier League leaders Chelsea. Like Hernández, Clyne’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2016. However, United will be required to pay a substantial fee in addition to sending Hernández to the south coast club. Hernández has been valued by several reports at £8 million, while Southampton are said to be after £20 million for Clyne.
Of course, much will depend on whether Hernández is prepared to move to Southampton. While it certainly wouldn’t be a club with the allure of Real Madrid and Manchester United, Hernández has made it clear that his focus for next season is on getting assurances about getting the regular playing time he has lacked over the past two seasons. Only last month, Hernández elaborated upon how frustrating his season has been at Real Madrid, having made just two starts in La Liga.
Hernández is already reported to have rejected an approach to move to Major League Soccer in the United States, but he may well be more enthusiastic about joining Southampton. Despite selling several of their big-name players last summer, new manager Ronald Koeman has had the club flying high in the Premier League table throughout the season. With six matches of the campaign remaining, they still have an outside chance of making it into the Champions League next season.
Still, the Guadalajara native will want to make sure his next move is the right one. And the prospect of continuing to play in the Champions League could prove decisive. Wolfsburg and Lazio, both of which look set to be in Europe’s top competition next season, have also been linked with Hernández’s signature. In the Premier League, Tottenham, West Ham and Stoke City are said to be monitoring his situation closely.