It is less than six months since Javier “Chicharito” Hernández brought an end to his stay at one of the world’s biggest clubs, opting for a chance of regular first-team action at Bayer Leverkusen. But such has been his prolific form in Germany that he is already being strongly linked with a transfer to another European giant.
The Mexico striker has scored 19 goals in just 22 appearances for the Bundesliga side, including five in the Champions League. And those scoring feats are widely believed to have attracted the interest of current Premier League leaders Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side have a shortage of out-and-out strikers and the Arsenal manager has said that he “will be busy” in the January transfer window. Yet whether a deal for Hernández will happen, or indeed should happen, is a very different matter, especially given that he would be ineligible for Arsenal's Champions League campaign.
Certainly Bayer Leverkusen appear to have no interest in letting the 27-year-old go so soon, even though they could likely make a substantial profit on the reported £8 million they paid to Manchester United in August. On the pitch, he has been one of the few bright spots in what has been a difficult start to the season. Leverkusen sit fifth in the Bundesliga, where Hernández has scored nearly half their goals, and were eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League.
“We are a football club and it is important that we are successful,” Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller told Sky Germany over the weekend. “Chicharito has played a big part in our success so far, through his style of play, through his goals. That's why we brought him here. In the first half of the season, everything has worked out fine. It's easy to reject offers when you are in a position in which you don't need to sell. We are in such a position. We will keep the players we want to help us achieve our goals.”
As well as his on-field exploits, Leverkusen have also commented on Hernández’s commercial benefits. A huge star in his homeland, Hernández has greatly expanded Leverkusen’s profile in Mexico.
There are also compelling reasons for Hernández to want to stay right where he is, at least for the time being. The penalty-box predator’s career was at a real crossroads last summer, with his form having suffered from spending more time on the bench than on the pitch. In the past three seasons, at Manchester United and on loan at Real Madrid, Hernández had started just 23 league games. While the lure of two of the world’s most prestigious clubs was enormous, even he admitted that being at a club where he could play regularly was imperative as he entered his prime years.
The benefits of finding that have been seen with his sparkling return to form in Germany. A move to Arsenal, where he is unlikely to be first choice, would put his career rejuvenation in jeopardy. Should a bid arrive from Arsenal, it may prove shrewd for both Leverkusen and Hernández to decline the opportunity.