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The signing of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez by West Ham United last month for £16m, was one that was met with great fanfare. And it was natural, given the Irons’ striker woes in recent years.
The club hasn’t had a striker who could deliver 15+ goals, for a long time now. There were a lot of hopes on Andy Carroll, when he was brought in from Liverpool, but the England international has been continuously plagued by injuries, which hasn’t allowed him to flourish into the striker he was hoped to become.
After a disastrous 2016 summer, when manager Slaven Bilic brought in the likes of Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri and Ashley Fletcher, only to find all of them turn out to be extremely ineffective, the signing of Hernandez comes as a fresh breath of air at the London Stadium.
The Mexican international comes in with a proven reputation of being a natural goal-scorer, who will find the back of the net regularly if there are chances created for him. Chicharito made his name mostly as an impact substitute during his tenure with Manchester United, a super-sub, but always maintained a healthy goal-scoring rate.
Hernandez made a total of 158 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 59 goals and registering 20 assists in all competitions. His 37 goals in Premier League came at a rate of one every 130 minutes, which isn’t bad at all, especially considering that he never really got a regular run in the squad. The Mexican also had a decent loan spell at Real Madrid in 2014-15, scoring 9 and assisting 9 in 33 games, before he moved to Leverkusen in the summer of 2015.
He continued to enhance his reputation in Germany, managing 79 appearances in his two years with Leverkusen, scoring 39 goals. The 29-year old did go through a lean patch last season, where goals dried up suddenly. But he managed to bounce back and finish the season strongly. Hernandez also became the highest goal-scorer for the Mexican national team earlier this year and has found the back of the net on 48 occasions for the El Tri in 96 games.
Everywhere he has played so far in his career, Chicharito has proven himself to be a constant source of goals. He is not someone who will bedazzle you with sleek skills, but is more of a poacher with that natural instinct of being at the right place at the right time and then doing the job.
He made his debut for the Hammers in a pre-season friendly against Altona 93 on Tuesday night and looked impressive for the 20 minutes he was on the pitch. It was an exciting cameo from the 29-year old where he could have easily scored twice and also could have won a penalty as well. There was a buzz when he came on to the field, and the early signs are very much promising.
Assistant manager Nikola Jurcevic spoke in glowing terms of the player after the game and claimed he will become an ‘important player’ for the club. Speaking the club’s official website, he said:
“He was a plus point from this game. He spent a few days with us and played about 20 minutes which was very important for him to feel how he will play with West Ham United.”
“In this moment he is not 100 per cent physically fit, but he is working hard and for him it was very important for him to play 20 minutes. He showed in that short time that he is a very different offensive player. He likes to have the ball in space, he is always on the offside line and I think he will be a really important player for us.”
In Hernandez, West Ham are getting their hands on a proven player with years of experience behind him and know-how of the game. While he may have just played 20 minutes for his new club, he showed enough evidence that he has the ability to make the Hammers’ attack more potent come next season. Judging by the early signs though, Chicharito is going to be an instant hit at the London Stadium.