It appears ever more likely that Javier “Chicharito” Hernández will be playing away from both Real Madrid and Manchester United next season. The Mexico striker is currently on a season-long loan at the Bernabeu, but has barely featured for the Spanish giants, making a permanent move highly unlikely. Meanwhile, there is fresh speculation that Manchester United intend to cash in on the 26-year-old this summer.
According to The Telegraph, United will look to sell Hernández, regardless of whether they decide to sign current loanee Radamel Falcao on a lucrative permanent deal from Monaco at the end of the season. After joining from Chivas de Guadalajara ahead of the 2010 World Cup for a fee of £6 million, Hernández’s impressive eye for goal saw him force himself into United’s starting lineup by the end of that first season, including in the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley. In the following season he again hit double figures in Premier League goals and signed a contract tying him to Old Trafford until 2016. But his opportunities have been greatly limited since, particularly after the arrival of Robin van Persie.
Louis van Gaal took little time to decide that he could do without the diminutive poacher’s services and what Hernández deemed a “dream” move to Real Madrid was finalized toward the close of the summer transfer window. But Hernández has started just one La Liga match and four games in total in the four months since. His appearance off the bench for 10 minutes on Sunday, when he was unable to turn around a 2-1 defeat to Valencia, was his first in four games. He didn’t feature at all in Real Madrid’s victorious Club World Cup campaign, with the returning forward Jesé Rodriguez providing further competition in a forward line led by Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Manchester United don’t have quite those same riches in attack. Still yet to rediscover his frightening best form, it would be a major gamble at this stage for United to agree to pay the £43 million it would take to sign Falcao on a permanent transfer. But Van Gaal also has Robin van Persie, teenager James Wilson and Wayne Rooney as forward options. And, chasing a return to Europe’s elite, it would appear that the veteran Dutch coach has decided that Hernández does not fit the bill.
Ironically, Hernández would appear better suited to United now than during the past two seasons. Hernández’s size and less than first-class link-up play means he can struggle as a lone striker, but is a better fit in the two-man frontline now employed at Old Trafford.
Still, Hernández, too, may well have decided he needs a move. He recently stated that, while uncertain about what his future holds, his priority for next season was to be at a club where he would receive assurances about his first-team opportunities. Realistically, he isn’t going to get that at either Real Madrid or Manchester United. There is little doubt that a player now entering the prime years for a footballer needs a regular run of games to rediscover that infectious energy and hunger for goals that so endeared him to fans at Old Trafford and the Mexico national team.
What options will he have this summer? Arsenal have been frequently linked with a transfer in recent times, but they now have a healthy collection of forwards. Moreover, manager Arsene Wenger has in recent years always opted for a single striker. Arsenal’s north London rivals, Tottenham have also long been cited as potential suitors. It is easy to see why, with Tottenham, despite Harry Kane’s run of form this season, still short on convincing options up front. Liverpool, also lacking firepower this season, have been suggested as a possible destination.
Hernández would certainly have admirers across the Premier League, as he likely will in Spain, despite his limited time to impress there this season. Perhaps the team he came up against at the weekend, Valencia, could be an ideal destination. Hernández was reportedly the subject of a bid from the Primera Division side in the summer. Now riding high in La Liga under new ownership and new management, Valencia would be an attractive proposition. With Milan recently linked, a transfer to Italy is also a possibility. Like Valencia, Juventus are thought to have made their interest concrete last August, and the lure of joining the three-time defending Serie A champions would doubtless be strong. He would, though, face competition from Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Morata.
Chicharito is unlikely then to be short of options come the end of the campaign, but, at this stage of his career, it will be crucial that he selects the right one.