Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has made just five starts in all competitions since joining Real Madrid on loan. Reuters

Despite a lack of playing time and rumors of a January exit, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is needed at Real Madrid and determined to fight for his place, according to manager Carlo Ancelotti. The Mexico striker made the move to the Bernabeu on a season-long loan deal last September, having been deemed surplus to requirements by new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. While Hernández described the move to the club he supported as a boy as a “dream,” he has made just one start so far in La Liga.

In recent weeks there was speculation that his loan could be cut short, with a move to Lazio mooted, even though it would breach FIFA rules against playing for more than two clubs in a single season. Yet despite giving him just 19 minutes of playing time since early December, Ancelotti has stated that Hernández still has a part to play.

“Chicharito has stayed here because we signed him because we needed him,” he said, reports Spanish sports daily AS. “I don’t know how many minutes we will need from him. He told me that he was happy to stay here and work with us. He is a great professional and for that I have been grateful.”

Hernández made an appearance off the bench in Real Madrid’s 4-1 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday. And the continued suspension of Cristiano Ronaldo could mean he is handed further minutes against Sevilla on Wednesday. Yet his chances of getting more regular playing time, barring the kind of rash of injuries that Ancelotti appears to be guarding against by keeping him on board, appear slim. Madrid’s options in attacking areas, already sizable in the form of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Isco, have been further boosted in recent months by the return from injury of Jesé Rodríguez.

For Hernández, though, there is little option but to stick it out and hope to be called upon as Madrid chase La Liga and Champions League titles. A return to Manchester United is unlikely to offer more prospects of first-team action and his only other choice, due to FIFA regulations, would be to go to a league that operates on a different calendar. However, Hernández is already thought to have rejected a move to Major League Soccer.

Instead, he is faced with the same situation he encountered for his last two seasons at Manchester United -- spending most of his time on the substitutes bench. The 26-year-old’s career is set to get a much-needed reboot this summer when he looks certain to exit Manchester United, having set his sights on a club where he will be given more assurances about his place in the team. Until then, the man who scored 19 goals and rapidly became a fan favorite in his first season at Old Trafford will look to leave a lasting impression at the Bernabeu by re-embracing the tag of “super-sub.”