When Javier Hernandez was sold to Bayer Leverkusen by Manchester United in the summer, many questioned Louis Van Gaal’s logic due to the Mexican’s status as a proven goalscorer, something United currently lack. He had a successful spell at Old Trafford, scoring 59 goals in 157 games for the club in five years from 2010 to 2015. During that time he won the league twice, in 2011 and 2013. The title in 2011 was arguably the one he had the most influence on, as he scored 13 goals in 27 league games that season.
The statistics do not lie, and Hernandez’s goalscoring ability is further underlined by his brilliant international record of 42 goals in 77 games. He is currently the second highest goalscorer in Mexico’s history.
A loan spell at Real Madrid saw him net 9 times in 33 games, but the Spanish side decided not to make the move permanent.
However, it has been his form this season that has captured the imagination and caught the eye of football fans worldwide. For Leverkusen, Hernandez – affectionately nicknamed Chicharito – has scored 19 goals in 22 games.
The reported transfer fee of £7.3million is looking like a bargain for the German side, and his form has left Manchester United fans gutted that he no longer plays for them.
But if rumours are to be believed, Chicharito could be making a return to the Premier League sooner than anyone thought. Title chasers Arsenal have been linked with the 27-year-old and it has been reported that they are weighing up a bid.
He is a player that would give Arsenal a different outlet to their current main striker Olivier Giroud. He is quicker, would play on the shoulder of the last man, and his movement is better.
Giroud is in great form and is proving that he is a good striker, but if he is out of form or injured, Arsenal don’t really have many options. They could play Alexis Sanchez or Theo Walcott as central strikers, but they are arguably better out wide. And it has long been said that Arsenal need a proven goalscorer to be real contenders in the league and in Europe.
Sure, Chicharito isn’t the star name that Arsenal fans wish for every year. He’s not a Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Edinson Cavani, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Luis Suarez. But he is a finisher.
With the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the team, there would be plenty of goalscoring opportunities for the ex-United man were he to join the Gunners, and you’d back him to score more often than not.
Former Arsenal striker, and arguably their best ever player, Thierry Henry has repeatedly said he feels Arsenal need another top striker, as Giroud isn’t enough on his own. One of Arsenal’s biggest problems in recent years has been the fact that they are left exposed when injuries hit. The lack of depth in the squad has cost them dear previously and they tend to fall off late in the season.
They have consistently finished in the top four but haven’t finished in the top two for 11 years. Since winning the league in 2004, they have placed 3rd or 4th every season. In that time, Manchester City have emerged from being a club that finished 16th that season, to a side that has won two league titles. In the same period of time, Chelsea have won the league four times and Manchester United have won it five times.
That makes uncomfortable reading for Arsenal fans and even though they have won the FA Cup for the last two seasons, there is an overwhelming feeling that the club cannot keep up with some of the other big sides in England – let alone abroad. The signing of a prolific striker would surely improve their chances of success, and if Leverkusen can be tempted to sell, then Chicharito would be a signing in that mould.
With the poor form of last season’s champions Chelsea, and the inconsistencies shown by title favourites Manchester City, this is surely the best chance in a long time for Arsenal to win the Premier League. If that means that they have to spend in January then they should do exactly that to secure success. And if that leads to them signing Javier Hernandez, Van Gaal can see first hand exactly how big a mistake he made.